Summary and book reviews of Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

Why We Broke Up

By Daniel Handler, Maira Kalman

Why We Broke Up
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  • Hardcover: Dec 2011,
    368 pages.
    Paperback: Dec 2013,
    368 pages.

    Publication Information

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Book Reviewed by:
Lucia Silva

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Book Summary

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+

Dear Ed,

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, ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse

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).

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Media Reviews
Entertainment Weekly

The Lemony Snicket author (writing under his own name) convincingly inhabits the mind of Min, a teenage girl reeling from her first heartbreak. This poignant, bittersweet novel centers on a box of objects infused with memories of her brief, unforgettable love.

Booklist

Starred Review. A bittersweet diatribe of their break-up arranged around objects... all the more powerful because of how they evoke truth more than any mere relaying of facts.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. A poignant, exhilarating tale of a love affair gone to the dogs.

School Library Journal

I was excited about how much this book is not like the Lemony Snicket books. It's totally different, it's totally wonderful, and all I can say is Handler is a darn fine writer... [T]his is a beautifully designed book. The paper is a high quality gloss, like you'd see and feel in a picture book.

Library Media Connection

Sure to resonate with all young adults.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Handler shows exceptional skill at getting inside Min's head and heart.

Reader Reviews
w8heier

Only a few pages
I have only read a few pages in this book. More like about 60 pages and I love, Love, Love It. I cant stop reading it but I of course have to stop reading it for school. yay. This book has many wonderful pictures and so many descriptive words and...   Read More

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How to Keep a Commonplace Book

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.

Commonplace Book 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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