Monday 20 February 2012

51. Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler and illustrated by Maria Kalman

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler and Maria Kalman
Published February 2012 Hardie Grant Egmont

From the publisher:

A moving story about a relationship breakdown which is a topic not often touched on. Focus in this genre is usually on romance, love, desire and the start of something. This is an important story about the realities of things ending. It is realistic and mature and speaks directly to teenagers about real life experience.

The story of this relationship is told by Min (Minerva).  She is writing Ed a letter to add to the box of all the bits and pieces she has kept from their time together.  They have broken up, and Min is giving Ed the box.
All of the bits and pieces are things that Min has kept, from the bottle tops Ed put in her hand the night they met, to the jar of chestnuts she bought for their Thanksgiving stuffing (they didn't make it to Thanksgiving).  Each section of the book starts with a colour illustration of the thing in the box, and the tells the story of that part of their relationship.
Min is smart, loves old movies, is proud to be a quirky and her friendship group is made up of like minded people. Ed is co-captain of the basketball team, he likes beer, basketball, and the Goofballs movies.  There is no way that they should have ended up together...but they do.

Their first meeting is at a party.  Min knows who Ed is, and she just so happens to find herself in the back yard with him, alone, if you don't count Trevor being sick in the flower beds.  And so it starts.  They have a connection, physical yes, but they also drawn to the "different-ness" of each other.  Daniel Handler writes Min's story almost as a stream of consciousness, and the memories just pour out of her.  Min makes Ed want to try things he has never done before, seeing old movies, drinking coffee, planning a party for someone they have never met.  Min also tries new things, beer, parties with jocks, watching basketball games.  Neither one feeling entirely at ease in the others world, but they try, because they are in love.

This story feels so real.  It has all of the nervousness/excitement that comes with meeting someone new, and starting a relationship.  It has the conflicts between old friendships and the new boyfriend. It has that slightly sick feeling when you start to think that maybe this isn't quite as it should be.  The conversations about nothing that mean everything, saying I Love You for the first time, losing your virginity because you think that this boy is special and it MEANS something! 

I am quite a few years (a lot) older than Min and Ed, but reading this took me back to my own teenage years.  The good and the bad of it.  On the back cover of the book it says "Min and Ed's story of HEARTBREAK may remind you of your own' and there are notes from other teenage authors sharing their own breakup stories.  Breakups are maybe not as popular a topic as the regular teenage romance, but sadly they tend to be part of life.

See below for a video of Daniel Handler (who by the way you may know as Lemony Snicket) interview passers by In Grand Central Station about their break-ups!

Who will like this book: Girls age 15+
Read it if you like: the authors John Green and David Levithan


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