Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Abducted by Why We Broke Up


The one thought that resonated most with me upon finishing Why We Broke Up was: Well, that wasn't quite what I thought it was going to be...

But upon further reflection I realized that I really had no idea what the book was supposed to be about when I bought it! When I went to Austin, back in January, with my friends, Tracy and Andrea, Tracy was the one who picked up the signed copy and said that she had heard it was good. The back of the book was filled with blurbs by fellow authors about there first loves, and of course, being the huge David Levithan fan that I am, his blurb jumped out at me...

"The boy I loved didn't know I existed. Then again, he was obsessed with Camus, so he didn't know if any of us existed." 

I bought the book because the signed copy had an autograph that included the drawing of a pen, which I thought made it special...


It wasn't until I got home that I realized the author, Daniel Handler, was the author of Lemony Snicket.

With all of that information, when I finally picked up Why We Broke Up and started to read it, I thought it was going to be a magically story about first love. Something along the lines of The Princess Bride or Tuck Everlasting...I guess the negativity of the title was lost on me. 

So for those of you, like me, who may not really know the story behind this book with it's amazing artwork let me give it to you in a nutshell:

We follow our main character, Min, on a morning where she is seeking closure from her ex-boyfriend, Ed. In order to obtain this closure she plans to take the box that contains all of the items she has collected during their relationship and is going to discard it on Ed's doorstep. Along the way she writes a letter to Ed reminiscing on each of the items and explaining how all of it lead to their inevitable breakup. 

Approaching the story in this manor can be very tricky for a book. Similar to movies like The Break Up (which is only okay) or 500 Days of Summer (which is awesome), Daniel Handler had to make us believe that Ed and Min were in love at one time, but then also see how they could break up in the end. My only complaint on that part of the story is that I wish Min and Ed had more time together. We basically find out from the very beginning that the relationship only lasted a couple of months. So much time was spent on establishing that these two people really did love each other, in spite of all their differences, that I felt the transition from the peak of their relationship to rock bottom was rather rushed. But I guess, in life, it isn't uncommon for two people in a relationship to go from madly in love to hating each other's guts at the drop of a hat. My favorite line was on page 31 when Min writes...

"I gave you an adventure, Ed, right in front of you but you never saw it until I showed you, and that's why we broke up." 

The writing is actually extremely clever and honest to real life. Min's thoughts in her letter are as scattered as any girl filled with rage towards an ex would be. It took a while to get used to it, but I really enjoyed it after a while. One of her lasts rants, where she goes on about how she isn't different or special, almost made me cry only because I felt so strongly for her in that moment. Min could be pretentious at times, but in all I really liked her and rooted for her. And in a way, I kind of rooted for Ed too. He was like the popular tough guy jock you would find in a John Hughes movie who wants so desperately to change but only ends up sabotaging himself. 

The art work is amazing! It is simplistic, but very detailed and colorful. I looked forward to finding what was going to be on the next page each time the chapter changed. I haven't read any reviews for this book, so I am not sure how the author worked with the artist, Maira Kalman, or which came first; the art or the writing. But it all flows together perfectly. 

There were a few other small things I didn't like about some of the characters, but as a whole I enjoyed the story. I am interested to hear what some of my friends think of it as well, but I'm not sure that I would immediately think of it as something to recommend to people.

I would give it an abduction rating of...

4 comments:

fakesteph said...

I totally want to read this!!!!! So so so so so bad! I liked your review. :) And I'm sorry you ignored the title. :( Hope is good tho, no?

Kate@Midnight Book Girl said...

I really want to get my hands on this book for Readathon, but I'm really trying not to buy any more books for awhile. Maybe Steph will get it and bring it to our Readathon party? ;) That's when you should come out- next year for Readathon! Of course we'll have to hang out and talk all day a few days before Readathon, but then you could come hang out with me, Kim and Steph!

Kimberly @ On the Wings of Books said...

This book looks really good. I'm glad you enjoyed it, even if the title fooled you (don't worry I've been fooled before too)! The artwork looks really cool.

Andrea @ The Overstuffed Bookcase said...

Hmm, sounds interesting. I like the idea, and the art looks cool. And that signature with the drawing of the pen is definitely awesome! Great review - I might have to pick this one up sometime!

 
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