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. Ages 14+
In a sec you'll hear a thunk. At your front door, the one nobody uses. It'll rattle the hinges a bit when it lands, because it's so weighty and important, a little jangle along with the thunk, and Joan will look up from whatever she's cooking. She will look down in her saucepan, worried that if she goes to see what it is it'll boil over. I can see her frown in the reflection of the bubbly sauce or whatnot. But she'll go, she'll go and see. You won't, Ed. You wouldn't. You're upstairs probably, sweaty and alone. You should be taking a shower, but you're heartbroken on the bed, I hope, so it's your sister, Joan, who will open the door even though the thunk's for you. You won't even know or hear what's being dumped at your door. You won't even know why it even happened.
It's a beautiful day, sunny and whatnot. The sort of day when you think everything will be all right, etc. Not the right day for this, not for us, who went out when it rains, ...
I loved this book. If I'd read this book when I was 14, I would have written that with capital letters and exclamation points, the page soggy with tears. Remember when you could read a book and feel like it was written just for you?... The qualities that make it so hard to be a teenager are also the reasons why they are such ripe receptors for fiction; they're gravely serious, they understand true drama, and they experience emotions with crushing severity. If you start reading Why We Broke Up, and it feels too over-the-top for you, I urge you to pass it along to a 13- or 14-year-old girl. Her emotions are full to the brim, and aching for somewhere to go. A book seems like a nice safe place, no?
(Reviewed by Lucia Silva).
Full Review (940 words).
Min's narrative-through-objects reminded me of a "commonplace book" I kept in high school at the urging of my (wonderful) 10th grade English teacher. Commonplace books became very popular during the Renaissance, used as a kind of intellectual filing system, whereby one collected poems, proverbs, quotes, and other material around a particular subject or theme.* Over time, the idea expanded to encompass a more modern combination of a scrapbook and a diary filled with sketches, photographs, articles, mementos, even mathematical equations.
Freed of the aesthetic demands of a traditional scrapbook, or the literary expectations of a diary, the rules are yours to make and break. I was never good at keeping up with a diary, but I loved my ...
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