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Why We Broke Up [Hardcover]

Daniel Handler
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Dec 19 2011

Min Green and Ed Slaterton have broken up, so Min is writing Ed a letter and giving him a box. Inside the box is why they broke up. A movie ticket from their first date, a comb from the motel room they shared and every other memento 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.

Why We Broke Up is a sincere and moving portrait of first love, first heartbreak and all the firsts in between. Min’s smart, sharp, devastatingly honest voice is one of the most memorable in contemporary young adult literature.

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Product Details

Product Description


"Handler?s genius is to make us hear those minor-key notes as if they were playing on our first?and last?dates, too."
- Booklist (Starred Review)


About the Author

DANIEL HANDLER is the author of the novels The Basic Eight, Watch Your Mouth and, as Lemony Snicket, the bestselling collection of children’s novels entitled A Series of Unfortunate Events, which has sold more than sixty million copies worldwide, has been translated into thirty-nine languages and was adapted into a feature film starring Jim Carrey and Meryl Streep.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars not a typical fluffy contemporary Aug. 16 2014
By Ana
oh my gosh i kinda feel like i just went through a break up. the writing was amazing. Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler is such an amazing book. ALL OF THE FEELS. The illustrations compliment the story perfectly and make it easier to visualize the events in the story. At first I shipped Min and Ed but as the story went on I realized that they didn't really make the greatest couple. I really liked Min, she was very real and straight up in her letters to Ed. I did like Ed through 98% percent of the book and then at the end I really didn't like him because of a certain something.

Near the end, when we found out the big reason why they broke up I was like


But seriously, this book is definitely one of my new favourite contemporaries. Daniel Handler did an amazing job showing the ups and downs of a relationship and first loves. I would recommend it to everyone, especially if you are looking for a unique contemporary that doesn't fluff up high school relationships.

Shoutout to Daniel Handler for creating such a beautiful, heartbreaking story and PUTTING MY HEART THROUGH HELL.

Also s/o to Maira Kalman for the kick ass illustrations, YOU DA REAL MVP
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Break Up Letter Ever Jan. 29 2012
Whoa. Just, whoa. Reading Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket)'s latest offering, a searing YA break up story, I feel like I have been transported back in time to my high school days*. Is there nothing the man can't do? Handler is in top form here, completely inhabiting the head space of his smart, angry teenage female narrator, Min Green. There isn't even the hintiest of hints of the author who brought snark and irony to contemporary children's literature. His sharp words are well tempered by Maira Kalman's bright illustrations of all the relationship relics Min has included with her epic break-up letter.

The book, while about love, is fueled with lots of rage. Min is smart, clueless, and completely heartbroken. Her narrative is breathless and feels like a cross between a diary rant and literary stream-of-conscious writing. The dialogue, as recalled by Min, is awkward and uncomfortable and is therefore spot on. Handler's teenagers do not talk like the kids on Dawson's Creek, or even the kids in a John Green novel, who are authentic, but loquacious. These kids say the wrong thing, stumble over their words, and are spot-on depictions of teenage awkwardness at it's best (or worst?). The juxtaposition of such literary narration and banal dialogue was fascinating.

I loved Min's friends, who throw theme parties such as a 'Bitter Sixteen' party in which all the food is so bitter it is basically inedible. I loved Min's mild hero-worship of Ed's older film-student sister, with whom she huddles in the stands at Ed's basketball games and learns to cook with in their warm, cosy kitchen.
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1.0 out of 5 stars bleak April 29 2012
By dara
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Purchased this for a book club. 1/9 girls liked it. Very disappointed. It was a good concept, but overall not satisfying nor engaging.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Boring, Slow, and a complete waste of time. Jan. 31 2012
To be completely honest, I was so excited to read this book and really wanted to love it. If you weren't aware Daniel Handler is a very famous author who wrote 'A Series of Unfortunate Events' under the pen name, Lemony Snicket. This series happened to be one of my favourites as a child, so I couldn't wait to read a novel with new ideas and characters from a beloved writer. It's very rare for me to not finish a book. Often times I will actually force myself to read the entire thing even if it is awful but I just couldn't with this book. I unfortunately put it down half way through because I could not handle reading any further.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  172 reviews
59 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Evocative story of young love Nov. 11 2011
By K. Polzin - Published on Amazon.com
Vine Customer Review of Free Product
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.
48 of 62 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Didn't really get Min's character- not a typical high school student Dec 13 2011
By M. Fuller - Published on Amazon.com
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.
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A witty retrospective of star-crossed love Dec 16 2011
By K. Sullivan - Published on Amazon.com
Vine Customer Review of Free Product
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. Handler vividly captures the essence of high school romance (love? crush?) with his trademark wit and creativity. Minerva Green is wonderfully human - from the height of haughtiness to the depths of humiliation. Her story is touching, entertaining, and told in a beguiling if pretentious voice. The book's 350 pages flow effortlessly. The artwork included enhances the experience and is used effectively throughout.
90 of 123 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Imagine the most boring John Hughes film never made... Dec 27 2011
By Susan Tunis - Published on Amazon.com
"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.
17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Didn't work for me Nov. 11 2011
By YA book lover - Published on Amazon.com
Vine Customer Review of Free Product
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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