Monday, February 27, 2012

Why We Broke Up ~ Daniel Handler & Maira Kalman review

Why We Broke Up
Daniel Handler (author), Maira Kalman (illustrator)
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
December 27, 2011
368 pages
add to Goodreads/buy on Amazon/or Book Depository

Min, short for Minerva the Roman goddess of wisdom, is the girl everyone calls "arty," the one obsessed with old Hollywood films and their stars. Ed is the popular one, the co-captain of their high school's basketball team. They're not two people who you would think would be a couple, but for a time they were.

Now they're not.

And Min is telling Ed through a letter and a box of mementos why they broke up.

The whole Why We Broke Up novel is a long, long letter (the book is 350+ pages) explaining to him why they broke up. Putting aside the fact that I"m not sure many - if any - teenage boys would read something that long about what they did wrong in a relationship, the book also doesn't feel like the letter is something cathartic for Min. It's a recap of their relationship.

Even knowing that the two of them are ultimately broken up, I couldn't understand why they were together in the first place. Ed's not a terribly nice guy. This is Min saying why they broke up so it's possible all the parts of their relationship that would have made me 'get' them as a couple were left out, but I'm not so sure.

Not liking Ed and not particularly caring for Min, either, I never really connected with the story. Min is definitely a unique character who seems to be well developed. She truly loves classic films and there are a lot of fictional movies talked about, explained and used in the story. In another story I think I would have really liked Min but because I didn't really understand why she and Ed were together in the first place (or stayed together), I couldn't care that much about her epic breakup letter.

The illustrations in the book were great, though. Maira Kalman illustrates the different objects that Min is putting in the box (along with the letter) that she will ultimately deliver to Ed. The colors are great and I love Kalman's style. It's also interesting to actually be able to see the items that Min is referencing.

This novel really relied on Min and Ed, their relationship and ultimately their breakup, as Min and Ed together just did not click for me, the novel in general did not. I did like some of the characters themselves, though - particularly Ed's sister and some of Min's friends.

Rating: 5/10

received, for review, from the publisher - thank you

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