Word Up, Nerd Up

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review: Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

Written By: Word Nerd - Apr• 02•13

Why We Broke UpWhy We Broke Up

Daniel Handler (novelist) / Maira Kalman (artist)

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers/YA

Release Date: December 27, 2011

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.
The first thing you will notice about this book is that it is heavy.  No, I don’t mean, “Oh, that’s intense, dude, really heavy.”  I mean the book weighs about 5 pounds.  Once you open the cover, you see that the weight comes from the glossy paper used to showcase Maira Kalman’s delightful art that peppers the novel.  It is part picture book, part novel and totally engaging.
Once I got over the feel of the slick and substantial pages (okay, I’m not really over it yet), I dove into the story and did not come out until I was finished.  Okay, that isn’t completely true, I did have to drive Teen Nerd home from ballet, but I talked the whole time about the book. That has to count for something.
Handler’s portrayal of Min is so spot-on, I wonder if he was once a teenage girl. (I don’t think he was, but I’m totally okay with it if true.)  She has found true love (until it is not) with someone who will be with her forever (or less) and she wants to bring all their friends together (unless they should stay apart).  Notice anything missing? Her family? They are there, but always in the way and nosing in to Min’s private business. (Sound familiar? Good, that means you were a teenager and lived to tell the tale. Or, you are still a teenager- it will get better.) 
Bonus- discussion of all kinds of lovely food and drink that will surely find their way into future installments of Monday Munchies.
My verdict: Read it! Oh, my gosh, I can’t say it enough– READ THIS BOOK!  It was recommended when I was searching for a John Green-esque book and it far exceeded my expectations. (You may better know Daniel Handler as the Lemony Snicket.  I am one of maybe five people in the world who did not care for The Series of Unfortunate Events.)  My one caveat with this book is do NOT download it to your e-reader, do NOT pick up a paperback copy, but get the luscious hardcover and enjoy this book the way it was intended.

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