Friday, October 19, 2012

Review on Why We Broke Up

When Carrie (see: The October Club) introduced this book, I read the blurb and immediately thought it seemed interesting. I wanted to read it because it was a novel idea. I mean, writing a book in letter format? To your ex explaining why you broke up? It seemed fascinating. So this is it.

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
The blurb:
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.
Age: 15 years and up (Note to parents: This novel includes frequent obscenities, underage drinking, references to drug use, lack of respect for parents and authority figures, and teen sex.)
Review: 3 stars
I'm staring at the rating I gave this book. I keep staring at it because I'm not sure I want to give it three stars. Let me start with how I felt when I started reading this book.
I opened the book on iBooks and started. By page 65, I wanted to give up on the book. The sentence structure was confusing, and how it read was boring. The story was messed up because since it was a letter, Min was writing it in the present to Ed, who knew the whole story. As I read it, I did not know the whole story and I got confused a lot of the time. Not only that, but the sentence structure (it bears repeating) was confusing. So very confusing. Commas where there weren't supposed to be commas. No commas or periods when there should have been commas or periods. When I was reading it I kept re-reading to make sure I understood. By that point, I was sure I was going to give this book two stars. Maybe 2.5 stars, but no more.*
I forced myself to keep reading. I had to. I've never not finished a book and I wasn't going to start now. I'm glad I didn't—because something interesting happened: I got into it. I wasn't completely sucked in or anything, but I actually started to enjoy the story. (Maybe it's an acquired taste? You have to get used to the writing style to like it?)
Before (and sometimes after) each chapter there's a picture (illustrated by Maira Kalman) that is one of the objects in the box that Min is giving back to Ed. That chapter then describes what was happening when she acquired that object, and therefore shares the story of their relationship and why they broke up. I really liked this because I could go back to see that object she was talking about when she was talking about it and because I'm somewhat of a visual person.
Min and Ed aren't your usual high school couple. They come from different...worlds, I guess you can say. Ed is your standard jock, and Min loves films and is kind of...nerdy (I really can't think of another word to describe her). I liked Ed in some chapters, hated him in others. I really hated him in the end.
So, you're wondering, why did I give this book three stars instead of the two I said I was going to give it? Because after around the middle of the book, I really enjoyed it. The sentence structure was still messed up (maybe that's the point?) but I got used to it and liked it. Unfortunately, I didn't like it enough to re-read it, because I really was confused during most of the beginning. I must confess: I skimmed over a lot of it in the beginning.
It was a nice story to read once you get into it, and it's an ok read for those of you who have time to kill. But hey, don't take my word for it. Give it a try—see if you like it.

*I read on Amazon a part of a review that I thought was perfect: "What I didn't like about this book was Min's voice." (Note: I read this review after writing mine, but had to put this quote in here.)

Yours,

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