Review: Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

Why We why we broke upBroke Up by Daniel Handler
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Published by: Little Brown Books
Pages: 354
Format: Paperback
Rating: ★★★★
Where to Find: Goodreads | Amazon
Wait, there’s going to be a movie?! How very ‘The Spectacular Now’.

There were a lot of things about this book that really jumped out at me. I love the title, how to the point it is. You definitely know what you’re getting with this one. I love the addition of pictures. That extra element just adds originality to the story but also enhances it so much. It definitely wouldn’t be the same without the beautiful pictures.

The novel follows Min, short of Minerva, Roman goddess of knowledge, as she explains the stories behind all the items she put in a box to deliver to her ex-boyfriend, Ed. Min is “different”, but only to someone who’s life is filled with basketball games and getting drunk at house parties. Ed is “different”, but only to someone who loves old movies and sitting in coffee shops. The point is, Min and Ed were two very different people and therefore not suited to each other in the eyes of their unsupportive best friends.

But if someone tells you you’re not right for someone, you’re going to do all you can to prove you are, right? Somehow, Ed changes when he’s with Min and I really liked how he was willing to change and try new things but I hoped that the developments he made with Min, such as not using ‘gay’ to describe things (urgh, those people actually exist) would translate into his basketball life. They didn’t. Away from Min, he was still the same guy with a string of angry ex-girlfriends who were more than willing to be his shoulder to cry on.

Min’s relationship with Ed, very realistically, alienated her from her friends, which is never the right thing. She didn’t grow as Ed did, but she definitely matured. I loved her realisation at the end of the relationship that there was nothing ‘different’ about her, and that was just a label given to her by ignorant teenagers that were to involved in their own lives to be bothered about anyone that didn’t resemble their personality. (I like to think of this book as a book about doomed romance but also a social commentary.)

I particularly enjoyed the beginning of the book, when Ed was innocent and so was Min. The way their relationship blossomed was lovely, if a little bit fast paced but I guess that’s the cliche of young love. However, once you get to know Ed, you realise he is the ‘jerk bastard prick’ that Min describes him as.

I thought that the actual break up was slightly anticlimactic. I wanted their to be a huge fight, with not just Min arguing at Ed. She, at the very least, needed to punch the guy for what he did. Two punches, even. Heck, she needed to invite her friends to help her beat him up.

Overall, I’d give this book four stars. The pictures and short chapters helped to push me through the novel in a very addicted fashion, as well as helping me to guess what was going to happen next. Daniel Handler’s irregular writing leant itself well to the style of this book: a long and slightly rambling explanation of a teenage break up from the girl’s perspective. I’d be really interested to read this book also from Ed’s perspective, with different items, but only to a certain extent because he was a dick.

I think this book definitely did its job, because if that was what a break up felt like, I never want to love.

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