Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

There are many different relationships in the young adult books on the shelves.  There are guys that long to tell their best friend they are in love with them, girls that swoon over the popular guy or loner (who happens to be a vampire/werewolf/shapeshifter), teens who long to come out but are afraid of what others might think, and those whose love of their life is right under their noses.  In Daniel Hander’s latest book, we get a different perspective on relationships and find out why Min and Ed broke up.

Why We Broke Up is the story of Min’s relationship with Ed and how it broke down.   Min delivers a box to Ed, her now ex-boyfriend.  Inside this box is a collection of objects from throughout their relationship and a letter.  Min has written this letter to explain to Ed why they broke up and explain to him why he now has this random assortment of objects on his doorstep.  She tells Ed exactly how she felt throughout their relationship and why each of these objects meant something to her.

Daniel Handler has created characters that teens (and adults) will be able to relate to and told us the story of the ups and downs of relationships.  It’s refreshing to read a story of a relationship that’s not as rosey as those in other young adult books.  You know from the title that Min and Ed’s relationship doesn’t work out and because you’re on the outside, you can see the little signs that it’s not going to last. Min has a very unique voice and it took me a while to get used to.  She’s a very observant person so she sees and hears things that a lot of others wouldn’t take notice of.  At one stage she describes a whole school day and it almost seems like she doesn’t take a breath.   After a while I found myself really liking this about her character because it’s what makes her unique and, I hate to say it, ‘different.’  The remains of their relationship, including two bottle caps, a box of matches, a toy truck and some stolen sugar, are an interesting and original way of framing the story.  Maira Kalman’s art is stunning and makes a perfect match with Daniel Handler’s story.  Min and Ed’s relationship may not have lasted but lets hope that Maria and Daniel’s does so that we see more books from this talented duo.

5 out of 5 stars

Check out whywebrokeupproject.tumblr.com to read other people’s break up stories, including some from Neil Gaiman, Brian Selznick and Carolyn Mackler.

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