Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

Why We Broke Up is a beautiful and heart-breaking book. It tells the story of the failed relationship between Min and Ed, two teenagers in love. Min’s ‘Dear John’ letter to Ed is composed of the many objects they accrued together, which she is returning to him in one big box. This assortment of things tells not just of their time together but also explains why they cannot any longer be a couple.
Why We Broke UpMin and Ed go to the same school, but are from different social circles. She is a little alternative, he’s a bit of a jock. They are drawn together despite of their differences. For Ed it is one of the main attractions about Min; she’s not like all the other girls he’s fooled around with. Min likes Ed too, but she is more aware of the gulf between them. For a short, glorious time they are able to bridge the gap, and have something special.
I love the way in which Min dissects their relationship with the benefit of hindsight. She has some exacting standards, and is sometimes harsh in her assessment of Ed’s failings. She’s not prepared to settle, and for that I applaud her. She has more strength of mind than I did as a teenager, that’s for sure.
As well as being an engrossing story, it also has these amazing illustrations. A picture accompanies each item Min puts into the box. I looked forward to finding out what the next thing would be both for the drawing and the memory it would prompt Min to share.
Although this is a teen fiction novel, I think it will resonate with many adults too, sending them on a wistful trip down memory lane. First loves and first heartbreaks are powerful things.

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