Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

This is a masterfully crafted novel that reveals the evolution and demise of a relationship through the mementos saved.

The book begins with 16 year old Min dumping a box of items she collected throughout her relationship with Ed Slaterton, a known womanizer. From the bottle caps she snuck into her pocket when they first met, to an expensive vintage cookbook Ed bought her, Min releases them all, chapter by chapter, as she recalls the circumstances under which they came to her.

Daniel Handler ( aka Lemony Snicket, author of the children’s books A Series of Unfortunate Events) does an excellent job of creating an authentic voice for his characters. With so many young adult novels creating unrealistic, overly mature situations for teen characters who seem to lack any parental controls and have bottomless pits of money and resources, I began to think all the teenagers I know had ended up with a really raw deal. Handler brings us down to earth again with characters that have the typical meddling parents and transportation woes. Min and her crowd speak like real teenagers–trying to be independent and testing their boundaries, while still suffering from the lack of experience that defines immaturity.

I love the way Min is completely duped by Ed’s charm (which, in addition to his good looks, is obviously what gets him a steady stream of girlfriends), and even convinces the reader that he’s very sweet–Min’s friends must be wrong about him. The reader and Min together struggle to accept Ed’s shine wearing off as the novel progresses, with each artifact of their relationship serving both to reveal Ed’s “love” and to explain why the relationship cannot last.

Min’s relationship with her friends is also authentically handled–as commonly happens when a girl begins dating, her friends are left behind. Of course they remain loyal, though their influence over Min is negligible, since she rarely even speaks to them anymore. And though the reader sees friendship complications develop over the course of the novel, Min is too blinded by her obsession with Ed to pick up on them. The suspense of what will happen when she finally “wakes up” carries the reader through to the end.

Handler has created an authentic novel with a fresh format. And, though it was written for teens, its quality appeals to adult readers, too. As a matter of fact, every book by Handler I read is better than the last–can’t wait to see what he comes up with next!

Find and reserve this book in our catalog.

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One Response to “Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler”

  1. Curly Miri Says:

    Great review. I will have to track this novel down.

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