Thursday, March 7, 2013

Why We Broke Up

By Daniel Handler

I’m telling you why we broke up, Ed. I’m writing it in this letter, the whole truth of why it happened.

Min Green and Ed Slaterton are breaking up, so Min is writing Ed a letter and giving him a box. Inside the box is why they broke up. Two bottle caps, a movie ticket, a folded note, a box of matches, a protractor, books, a toy truck, a pair of ugly earrings, a comb from a motel room, and every other item collected over the course of a giddy, intimate, heartbreaking relationship. Item after item is illustrated and accounted for, and then the box, like a girlfriend, will be dumped.

It is a rare book that I find myself feeling such dislike for. It is difficult for me to be objective with the content of this book, which by the way, I never would have picked to read but was required for my Young Adult lit class. This book won the Michael Pintz award for YA lit and I can see why. To be fair, the format was creative and beautiful, the paintings added so much to the book and I loved how the ‘letter’ was organized. On the other hand, while Daniel Handler has a great style and his writing and plot were simply amazing, it is purely the content that I couldn’t handle. I hate break up songs, and this is the first break up book I’ve read, and I was sick at the end. It’s basically about a girl who falls for a guy that she has nothing in common with and he tells her he loves her and gets her to agree to sleep with him.  It is every girl’s worst nightmare in words.  I was so frustrated with the character of Min, who was a truly engaging and interesting character that I wanted to scream at her to not be an idiot.  I was really hoping as I read this that this isn’t a typical teenage story of modern days…my teen years were very mild by choice. This book made me highly uncomfortable with what they call “the everything but” scenes and the eventual “everything” scene which made me so sad.  I didn’t find anything to redeem this book, not a moral or anything. It’s a book that is sad. I can find nothing redemptive in the plot.  This just wasn’t my cup a tea. Not to mention the frequent ‘bombs’ of language. Sheesh. Lot of innuendo, sex scene, references, and language was pretty terrible. No violence. Mature themes with drugs and drinking.

I give it a 1.5 out of 5 because I have to give it something for the beautiful art presentation and format which was creative and lovely and the writing tone (not content) is very nice.

 If you want some fun, though I didn't care for this book, this website can be pretty hilarious. It's a project that Daniel Handler started with people's breakup stories and sometimes his responses. Some of the stories are pretty...dicey though. So peruse at your own risk.
On the other hand, you MUST watch this. This guy is awesome.

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