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Instructions for a Broken Heart [Kindle Edition]

Kim Culbertson
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Top 20 Reasons He's a Slimy Jerk Bastard

Jessa: To help you get over your train wreck EX, I've enclosed 20 envelopes. Each one has a reason why Sean is a jerk and not worth the dirt on your shoes. And each one has an instruction for you to do one un-Jessa-like thing a day. NO CHEATING!

Ciao! -C

When Jessa catches her boyfriend, Sean, making out with Natalie "the Boob Job" Stone three days before their drama club's departure to Italy, she completely freaks. Stuck with a front-row view of Sean and Natalie making out against the backdrop of a country that oozes romance, Jessa promises to follow all of the outrageous instructions in her best friend's care package and open her heart to new experiences. Enter cute Italian boy stage left.

Jessa had prepared to play the role of humiliated ex-girlfriend, but with Carissa directing her life from afar, it's finally time to take a shot at being a star.

"Instructions for a Broken Heart transported me-to Italy, back to high school, to the wrench and ache of a first breakup and the exhilaration of self-discovery...with multifaceted characters and realistic complexities, this unforgettable novel is a journey I'm so glad to have taken."

-Eireann Corrigan, author of Accomplice

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Editorial Reviews


Culbertson balances the story between teen angst and a nice Italian travelogue. The author has a flair for evocative descriptions. . . The major strength here is in the literary quality of the writing, although teens may be more interested in the characters' relationship." (Kirkus 20110424)

I really enjoyed this tale that transported me to Italy and memories of that first break-up and betrayal. Jessa is used to doing everything well. One refreshing thing about this story is her character isn't a one sided drama student that are in some other books and even on TV. No, Jessa is a multi-layered person who's struggles with Sean's betrayal and to the wrenching heartache of first love ring very true.

The lush background of Italy tugs at Jessa as does the cute mysterious Italian boy who just shows up to Dylan Thomas, a boy from the other school. The letters from Carissa remind me of 13 LITTLE BLUE ENVELOPES only these instructions have Jessa do some experiences that go way out of her comfort zone. For example the whole Laundry Rule 101 that it should be a crime for an ex to wear something you bought them. What Jessa does with this one to Sean is hilarious. The romps through Italy are both touching to hilarious.

Another thing I really loved was the whole kiss-a-frog-thing wasn't about finding a prince but rather that you had to follow your own share of frogs on a stick through the busy streets before you get them smashed on the cement so you can find your own way. This is in reference to their tour guide who has this frog on a stick that they all find very annoying. Jessa finds out on her journey through Italy that she has to do just that.

This is a must read for fans of Sarah Dessen and those who loved Culbertson's first book SONGS FOR A TEENAGE NOMAD. This book also has some free verse poems throughout the pages. A real treat for those who need a welcomed break from all the paranormals and dystopias out there. (Kim Bacciella Young Adult Books Central 20110418)

While contemporary was never my favourite thing before, truly I'm finding a wonderful and eclectic mix of books to satiate my contemporary appetite now. Instructions for a Broken Heart doesn't have the most original of premises - cheating guy, good best friend, chance to find oneself etc. - but author Kim Culbertson has delicately balanced a strong setting, a great cast of characters and a coming-of-age story that anyone can relate to. Laugh out loud funny, tender and sweet, Instructions for a Broken Heart is one of those books that makes me feel like the character might just be me or my best friend.

The strongest part of Instructions for a Broken Heart was the main character, Jessa, in my humble opinion. It is so easy to draw a character that becomes weak and spineless in her situation, but Jessa's personality was perfectly played. She hesitates, she's flawed and she has self-doubt, but it's not in the crippling "woe is me" sense of the word. Jessa wants to find happiness and she wants to have a great time in Italy. The way the list gives her a chance to step outside herself, introduce a cast of fantastic secondary characters and show us a world of adventure was a skill in and of itself, making me enjoy and relate to Instructions for a Broken Heart that much more.

All in all, Instructions for a Broken Heart was a sweet, heartfelt and extremely approachable book. It exceeded my expectations, which were already high. I give it a strong 4.5 out of 5, and I'd recommend it to fans of YA, especially those who enjoy contemporary fiction. (Melissa i swim for oceans )

About the Author

Kim Culbertson has taught high school English, creative writing, and drama for over ten years and sees her writing as an extension of her teaching. She lives in the Northern California foothills with her husband and daughter, where she loves to drink coffee and look at the clouds. Visit

Product Details

  • File Size: 432 KB
  • Print Length: 302 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1402243022
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire (May 1, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004TTS2RQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #178,825 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 20 Reasons You Want To Read This Book May 3, 2011
1. You love gorgeous writing.
2. You like/love/would like to go to Italy.
3. You appreciate romance but hate saccharine.
4. You remember having your heart broken for the first time.
5. You like/love/need to be reminded that life isn't all gloom and doom.
6. You have fantasized at some point in your life about throwing an orange soda (or something equally messy) at someone who really deserved it.
7. You are not the kind of person who would actually throw a neon drink at someone.
8. You want to read a book with heart.
9. You want to read a book with a brain.
10. You have read too many books that lack either #8 or #9 above and are yearning for a book that balances the two.
11. You like real, complex characters, not "types."
12. You have been a good friend.
13. You have been a bad friend.
14. You know #12 and #13 above don't exist as absolutes.
15. You, like Jessa, the protagonist, love how plays and scenes within them are "So clean.... No fussy, messy strings and roads that led nowhere."
16. You love the messiness of real life, too.
17. You wish you had told an ex that his/her cologne smells like "possum pee."
18. You believe "Practicality can be its own prison."
19. You understand what it's like to feel too much.
20. You believe that discovering who you really are is the coolest field trip ever.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Realistic Contemporary YA fiction May 27, 2011
Kim Culbertson's first book, Songs for a Teenage Nomad, made my Best Reads of 2010 so I was really looking forward to her next book. She writes in style that I really enjoy and gives insight to characters that most YA writers tend to skim over. I really enjoy how her books are more about what the characters are feeling as opposed to just things that happen to them. This story is about about teenage love, drama, friendship and everything in between mixed in with an armchair vacation to Italy.

Jessa's had the worse thing that could happen to a teen girl. She catches her boyfriend in the act of cheating with her right before they are set to go on a school trip to Italy together. You can't run away from the pain and hurt and have a good cry or recover when your ex-boyfriend is down the aisle with his new girlfriend. In order to help Jessa get through this time, her best friend Carissa has written instructions on what to do to get over Sean. Through these instructions, Jessa learns more about Sean, Carissa, and her own self.

I feel as if Carissa is at sort of a disadvantage in this story because we only get to know her character from the letters she's written Jessa as well as conversations other characters have about her. We don't get to her personally from her and she's not there to defend her actions or viewpoints. Sometimes it even seemed as if the things she was getting Jessa to do towards Sean are things that Carissa wanted to do herself but couldn't. I personally would have like to read a book from her point of view of the whole situation as well.

There's a scene that happens with Jessa and her teacher that thankfully does not go further than it does.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Mother Daughter Book Club. com May 11, 2011
Just before she's set to leave for Italy with her high school drama club, Jessa catches her boyfriend, Sean, making out with another girl. Going on the trip is harder than she thought it would be, especially because Sean and his new girlfriend are also part of the drama club.

So she sets out to get over Sean with the help of her best friend, Carissa, who has sent along instructions for Jessa to do one thing each day of her trip that takes her out of her comfort zone and onto the path of getting over Sean.

Instructions for a Broken Heart by Kim Culbertson takes Jessa on a journey of discovery about herself and the people around her. And while I think I could recover from a broken heart quite nicely while traveling around Italy, Culbertson paints a picture of how it could be a challenge too. Everywhere Jessa looks she sees people who appear to be in love. And everywhere she goes she would love to share her observations about the people and the countryside with someone she cares about.

As Jessa takes on each instruction, she discovers that relationships can't necessarily be taken at face value, and people are more complicated that the veneers they display to the world. As she recognizes what was good and what was bad in her just-ended relationship, Jessa also learns how she wants to go forward. Culbertson does an excellent job of capturing the sense of insecurity that comes from rejection and the volatility and stress that many teens experience.

There are lots of issues for mother-daughter book clubs with girls aged 14 and up to discuss in Instructions for a Broken Heart. How do you maintain your sense of self when you date someone? How do you keep self-confidence when a relationship ends? How do you determine if your activities support your passions or other people's expectations of you?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review - Instructions for a Broken Heart December 7, 2011
I've finished Instructions for a Broken Heart by Kim Culbertson (I received it for review from the publisher) and I was very pleased with the book.

Jessa, the main character, has caught her boyfriend cheating on her. Her best friend Carissa has hatched a plan to help her get over him while she's on spring break in Italy.

I like Jessa. She's like any normal teenager trying to get over a bad breakup. Something I can relate to, even though I'm not even close to teenage anymore. And she's got an absent best friend (who can't go to Italy because she's babysitting) who plays a big part in her trip anyway. Tyler was one of my favorite characters. He's protective but not in a creepy stalker way. And I loved Dylan Thomas too. He was interesting and funny and smart.

The conflict between their group and "Cruella" was humorous and frustrating. Made me want to tell her off. And even though I've never personally been to Italy, the way things were described made me feel like if I just closed my eyes I could see them.

One thing I DIDN'T agree with though. Jessa said:

"It's hard not to heap pity on people who just kept electing to be miserable."

Those are exACTLY the people you should NOT feel sorry for. The ones who CHOOSE to be miserable. Because after a while they need to hold themselves accountable for the choices they've made. They are making themselves miserable. Feeling sorry for them fuels the fire.

Despite the reason for the "Instructions" the book was incredibly lighthearted and it was a great read. I almost wished there was another so I could find out what happened with Jessa and......

I would recommend this book to anyone. Teenage, young adult, and .... not as young adults like me. :-)
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read for broken hearted teens
Jessa is an over achiever, involved in all sorts of sports clubs and activities including drama. Her boyfriend, Sean, is also into drama, but when she catches him making out with... Read more
Published 1 month ago by John Rogers ClarkIV
5.0 out of 5 stars One Of My Favorite Break-Up Books
An Open Letter To Instructions for a Broken Heart,

You go book! You're pretty much one of the funniest and sweetest breakup books I've ever read. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Christianna
5.0 out of 5 stars Love, Heartbreak, Friendship, and Italy
When I read the reviews for this book, I was surprised by the mix of opinions. People seemed to either love it or they didn't get it. Read more
Published 11 months ago by DL
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun!
Don't listen to the haters... This woman can write! A fun read! Perfect for the genre. Get it, read it, love it!
Published 13 months ago by Bodhi Moon
1.0 out of 5 stars Fast read/Cotton candy
Totally disappointing 'cotton candy'. Fast read to the end and that has a nice little twist. But getting there? A bit of an insult to YA intelligence in my book. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Julie K.
1.0 out of 5 stars Pure garbage. So disappointed
First off, the synopsis of the book outright tells you that Jessa is going through a broken heart. Then, "Enter cute Italian guy stage left. Read more
Published 21 months ago by tns777
3.0 out of 5 stars Some good, some not so good...
This was just a so-so book for me. It was cute and had a great setting but there wasn't really any wow factor in it. Read more
Published on December 13, 2011 by Candace Robinson
4.0 out of 5 stars Travel, Romance, Teen Angst...What Else Could You Want?
Instructions for a Broken Heart is a great second book from author Kim Culbertson. She writes with an appreciation for language and the impact her words can have on the reader's... Read more
Published on December 7, 2011 by CJ Blake
1.0 out of 5 stars Extremely disappointing
So. My first one star review. And on a book I thought I would love, no less. I feel really bad giving Instructions For A Broken Heart such a low rating - I tried so hard to find... Read more
Published on November 10, 2011 by Rachel S
4.0 out of 5 stars Adorable, fast read
This book was adorable, first off. I loved the incorporation of Italy's history, which not many books pull off without sounding like a history book. Read more
Published on October 19, 2011 by Meghan @ Books and a Cup of Tea
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More About the Author

Kim Culbertson technically writes for teenagers, but some grown-ups like her work. Sourcebooks Fire published her first YA novel Songs for a Teenage Nomad (2010) and her second Instructions for a Broken Heart (2011), which was named a Booklist Top Ten Romance Title for Youth: 2011 and won the 2012 Northern California Book Award for YA Fiction. Her third YA novel Catch a Falling Star will be published by Scholastic. When she's not writing for teens, she's teaching them. She's a college advisor and teaches creative writing and English in Northern California. Kim wrote her eBook novella The Liberation of Max McTrue for her students who, over the years, have taught her much more than she has taught them.

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