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Why We Broke Up Hardcover – December 27, 2011

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Editorial Reviews Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, January 2012: Min, precocious and equally obsessed with classic cinema and good coffee, broke up with Ed, a popular math-loving jock who secretly carries a protractor. Daniel Handler weaves this heartrending story of first love and other powerful firsts as Min reveals, item by item, what's in the box she's leaving on Ed's doorstep. As readers learn why these two unforgettable characters broke up, the significance of these simple love tokens, beautifully illustrated by Maira Kalman, charmingly unfolds. Written with an emotional depth that allows both adult and teen readers to revisit memories of heartbreak and find pieces of themselves in Min--and maybe even Ed, Why We Broke Up will leave you wondering how Handler knows exactly what it's like to be a teenage girl in love. --JoVon Sotak


2012 Printz Honor Book
ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults Title
School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
Kirkus Reviews Best YA Book of the Year
Booklist Editor's Choice Pick
Children's Book Committee at Bank Street College Outstanding Book of the Year

"The Lemony Snicket author (writing under his own name) convincingly inhabits the mind of Min, a teenage girl reeling from her first heartbreak. This poignant, bittersweet novel centers on a box of objects infused with memories of her brief, unforgettable love."―Entertainment Weekly

"It's easy to predict how Handler's story will conclude from the book's few pages. It's more difficult to take such an everyday tragedy with a predictable ending and elevate it to an end point of enduring, emotionally effective art."―Los Angeles Times

* "Characters are vivid, and their portrayal is enriched by realistic dialogue....Hander offers a heartbreaking, bittersweet, and compelling romance with a unique angle and flare."―School Library Journal (starred review)

* "A bittersweet diatribe of their break-up arranged around objects....all the more powerful because of how they evoke truth more than any mere relaying of facts."―Booklist (starred review)

* "As objects from the box are revealed in Kalman's vividly rendered paintings, readers are taken beneath the surface of what will no doubt be one of the most talked-about romances in teen literature....A poignant, exhilarating tale of a love affair gone to the dogs."―Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

* "Handler shows exceptional skill at getting inside Min's head and heart...lending real pathos to Min's memorabilia and making her sorrow all the more palpable."―Publishers Weekly (starred review)

* "Handler is at his best when he's creating verbal collages of ordinary, recognizable high-school moments....Like the perfect breakup song, this turns the searing experience of losing your heart into a cathartic work of art."―The Bulletin (starred review)

* "Kalman's spare illustrations of the objects heighten the overall enjoyment and perfectly complement Handler's accomplished prose."The Horn Book (starred review)

"Happiness, passion, betrayal, and despair are detailed in stream of consciousness....Why We Broke Up is real and compelling."―VOYA

"Sure to resonate with all young adults."―Library Media Connection

"Anyone who's ever dealt with a bad breakup will love this book."―American Cheerleader

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (December 27, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316127256
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316127257
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (196 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #160,170 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I'm a fan of Lemony Snicket and his A Series of Unfortunate Events books, and I'm a fan of Maira Kalman's work. I had never read any of the books for adults by Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket). The blurb on "Why We Broke Up" says it is for "Ages 15 and up," but it was an excellent adult read.

The story is told in the form of a letter Min writes to break up with her boyfriend Ed. In addition to Min and Ed, Min's friends Al and Lauren, and Ed's sister Joan were all vividly drawn, primarily using dialogue. I enjoyed their witty banter as well as their more serious talks. Handler perfectly captured the feelings that go with being a teenager, and with being a teenager in love. Maira Kalman's illustrations perfectly match the tone of the book.

One of the book's many strengths is the handling of the character Ed. Handler makes Ed likable, and the reader roots for Ed and Min's relationship, even though Min's break-up letter makes it clear there is something to be angry with Ed about.

I don't know how 15-year old readers would view this book, but I suspect it would be a good book for an "arty" teenager.
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48 of 63 people found the following review helpful By M. Fuller on December 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Why We Broke Up- by Daniel Handler is a story about love, and then breaking up. Min writes a long letter to Ed to accompany a box filled with trinkets she has collected from their relationship. I loved the premise of this story, and I even liked the characters, Min and Ed, who are from completely different worlds- Film fanatic Min who is into gourmet cooking, old movies, and coffee- and Ed, the co-captain of the basketball team, and is wildly popular.

I really liked how they fell in love with each other almost because of their differences. Each one stretching the other past their usual boundaries (from watching classic films, or goofball movies to romping around in the park early on a Saturday morning) their love was strained because of their different groups of friends and natural tastes. I resonated with how quickly they fell in love, and what they were willing to sacrifice to try and make it work.

What I didn't like about this book was Min's voice. She would ramble for page-long paragraphs about old films and half the time, I had a really hard time tracking what she was saying, or caring about that side-note. She wasn't a believable high schooler- she seemed like a 30-something single. I will be surprised if many high school students pick-up and finish this book, though it does raise some great points about self-esteem, cliques, sex, and friends. I just couldn't get past the long rambles from Min to really bond with her though.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By K. Sullivan VINE VOICE on December 16, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Ed Slaterton and Minerva "Min" Green make an improbable couple, star-crossed lovers, even. He is the dashingly handsome co-captain of the basketball team and a senior. She, a junior, is... "different". He listens to mainstream music. She watches movies only if they're art house or foreign enough. But as unlikely as their relationship is, as doomed as their affair surely must be, they find themselves thrust together at a party. Thus begins a whirlwind romance destined for heartbreak. "Why We Broke Up" is a lengthy post-break-up letter from Min to Ed. She returns all the mementos of their time together (artistic renderings are provided of each) in a box left at his door and explains their significance and illuminates how they presaged the tragedy that would inevitably ensue.

As expected, Min has a flair for the dramatic. The melodramatic tone of the beginning gives way to real drama in the climax. If Min takes herself too seriously, her feelings and flaws are so starkly exposed that the reader warmly empathizes with her by the novel's conclusion. She is unabashedly pretentious and superior (mainstream is bad, different is inherently good) yet endearingly vulnerable. In a hail of "no offenses" and "whatnots" and oddly placed adjectives and "-ly-less" adverbs, by turns snarky and sincere, Min lays her heart bare. She provides an anecdotal retrospective of their month-long relationship.

Though Min takes center-stage, the story is populated with quirky characters. Whether catty ex-girlfriends, disapproving friends, or protective family members, Handler creates minor characters of depth and resonance. Some of the best one-liners, humorous moments, and poignant scenes are owing to them.

"Why We Broke Up" is heartbreaking yet humorous and ultimately hopeful.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on November 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Unfortunately, couldn't force myself to finish this novel.

This breakup story has a nice premise, but the narrator, as written by Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket), is too artsy/quirky/hormonal/annoying for my taste. Her penchant for run-on sentences and pages-long angst-filled paragraphs is hard to stomach. The dialog is mostly annoying too.

It is worth mentioning though, that this book got starred reviews from pretty much every major professional review publication. So I am clearly going against the grain here.
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92 of 127 people found the following review helpful By Susan Tunis on December 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover
"Dear Ed,

In a sec you'll hear a thunk."

So begins Daniel Handler's (AKA Lemony Snicket) latest YA offering, Why We Broke Up. The aforementioned "thunk" is the sound of a heavy box flung by Min Green hitting the porch of her ex-boyfriend, Ed Slaterton. The 350-page novel is comprised of the long, long, long letter that she includes as she returns to him the minutia of their relationship. This relationship is recounted from start to finish in the letter/novel through Min's apparently photographic recall. Scattered throughout the text are Maira Kalman's charming illustrations of the contents of the box, which range from bottle tops to ticket stubs to clothing.

With all the drawings and white space throughout the book, it isn't really a full 350 pages, and yet it felt longer. It was written as an angsty, teen, stream of conscious rant, and it was chock-full of pointless filler, such as detailed descriptions of dozens of fictional films, made by fictional people, starring fictional stars. You see, Min's the substantive one in the relationship. She's "different." Ed's a popular jock, co-captain of the basketball team. They're from different worlds, with different friends! And yet they struggle to make it work.

I've never been an adult that had the slightest problem reading and appreciating YA or children's fiction, but this was just an overly drawn-out, boring, and humorless waste of time. Ultimately, I found it unsatisfying on every level. And that, Daniel, is why WE broke 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.
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