Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Tales from the Bookshelf: Why We Broke Up, by Daniel Handler

I decided to pick up this book from the library the day before going to meet Daniel Handler at his We are Pirates event! It was awesome and you can read about it all right here. I already knew this book existed, but since it's YA I was never in a huge hurry to read it. After learning that I'd meet the author in a few days, I got into this mindset that I had to read ALL THE DANIEL HANDLER things, and I got lucky with this book just sitting on the library shelf waiting for me.

Why We Broke Up
Featuring a guest appearance from Lego Loki!

Since I was determined to finish it before the event the next day, I plopped myself on the couch for a good five hours and plowed through the book, start to finish.

Then I felt really sad.

At first I was blaming it on being a stupid book with a crappy ending. I mean, it does have a crappy ending, but it's a book about why two people broke up, so what else did I expect? Then I thought about it some more, and thought, if I didn't like it, then why was I sad? 99.9% of the books I don't like make me feel bored, annoyed or just indifferent. All pretty mediocre and nondescript adjectives. So if a book actually makes you feel something, then maybe there's something to it? Maybe?! I'm still not sure. I hate talking about feelings. Aaaaahhhhh.

So anyway, uh, here's the book bio: 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.

The whole book is in the form of this long letter Min writes to Ed, while she's on her way to go dump a box of Ed's stuff on his doorstep. On her way to Ed's house.

Lego Loki
This is how long it takes her to get to Ed's house. Lego Loki finds this questionable.

For each chapter she writes about an object in the box (with each item illustrated by Maira Kalman), and at what point in their (very short) relationship it's from. Some of it I don't really understand why she kept, like this prickly thorn thing that got stuck on her sweater when they're in the woods.

While I do think the book is really well written, I don't like either of the characters. I don't think you're supposed to. Min is a romantic, and very angsty. She dreams of this uber romantic life with Ed and it kinda takes over her life. For example, Ed's on the basketball team, and even though Min hates basketball she goes to watch him at basketball practice because that's what he wants her to do and that's what all the other basketball girlfriends do. He also puts down a lot of her friends and interests, but she mostly lets it slide. Really these two people have nothing in common.

Why We Broke Up

So, (not surprisingly) as the title states, they eventually break up. That's about all I can say without ruining the whole story.

While it's no longer being updated, there's a Tumblr blog called the Why We Broke Up Project, which is pretty fun. People submit why they broke up with their first boyfriend/girlfriend, and in return they get a witty response from Daniel Handler. There's also a page of celebrity breakup stories, mostly from other authors. Lastly, there's a handy little quiz written by Daniel Handler himself, to find out how much of a romantic you are. I kind of failed. I scored three points, which means "You are an android with no feelings whatsoever." Hmmm...

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