Book Reviews · Young Adult

Book Review: “Why We Broke Up” by Daniel Handler

WHY WE BROKE UPWhy We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was magnificent and it was childish, but not in the negative connotation of the word. It had so much imagination and that’s what made it remarkable, and it was a wonderful love story that verged on being mature. It was still centered on kids and that was prominent throughout the entire novel, but it didn’t take away from a heartfelt love story.

My thoughts on the characters:
I think having this story told in the first person makes the reader slightly biased towards the main character, Min (short for Minerva) Green. Sometimes she felt too real, sometimes she felt like I was reading about myself in someone else’s words, sometimes she felt like the problematic heroine I’ve always kind of wanted to read about. I think my favorite thing about her is that she acknowledged the many mistakes she made and actively sets out to right any wrongs. I also loved how unabashedly real she was about who she was and to what lengths she was willing to go to without losing her sense of self, but also compromise on other’s needs or wants in her relationship with them.
I’m not ashamed to say that I loved Ed Slaterton. His enthusiasm and love for Min gradually grow as the story progresses. He had his own quirks and a wonderfully developed personality, which I haven’t read much in young adult books. The amount of time he and Min spend together is told in detail and he gets as much time to shine as Min does, and this establishes the mechanics of their relationship and the inevitable reason that they break up.
The side characters felt interchangeable to me, except for Annette and Al. I felt conflicted on Annette, mainly because she was kind but she felt shady from the very beginning. A part of me felt like more needed to be elaborated on her character, too, because she had her own story before Min’s. I loved and hated Al. I loved him because he’s a loyal friend and he is as unapologetic about the things he loves as Min is. I hated him because he didn’t protect Min hard enough.

My thoughts on the plot:
I loved the style in which the story is told, as well as the structure of every chapter with the additional illustrations. The beginning drags a little, I think, but so did their relationship and I felt like it echoed the reality of their situation very well. When the plot starts to pick up, I was amazed by the adventures they had. I loved the obsession Min had with Lottie Carson and the fact that Ed jumped on her bandwagon and got more excited the longer they were together. I loved the fact that so much of their relationship was defined by objects (although at the beginning all the memento giving felt forced and awkward). I loved that they both stepped out of their comfort zones and found themselves changed in a good way, especially Ed with his derogatory words and weird girlfriend view.
I loved the dynamics of the relationships. Nothing felt unnecessary, from Ed’s sister’s comments and knowledge of film and cuisine to Al’s family store and his absolute denial of having opinions. I loved the background characters and the teenage attitudes towards organized school events and virginity and friendships.

This book was remarkable. I would recommend readers of high school age and up to read this book. It might not change your view on true love or high-school love, but it will give you an understanding of how real love can be at any age and within any context.

View all my reviews

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