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.