Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

Challenge 20 – “A book at the bottom of your to-read list.”

why we broke up

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Reflecting on this book, the first thing that jumps to mind is its original format. I’ve never read another novel quite like it, despite it being likened in similarity to Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. Unlike many other novels that are illustrated, the images enhance the story, rather than just accompany, meaning that without them the novel would not rank as high. The style of the illustrations also captures the sophisticated immaturity of the characters in perfect fashion, adding a further success to the book.

The plot itself is reminiscent of the typical high school romance break-up tale, but flows seamlessly from one item to the next. The regular breaks, however, provides an easy way to stop and start reading. Fortunately Handler has foreseen this, and the resultant generic ending to the sections (usually based around ‘and that x y and z, Ed, is why we broke up’) leaves you yearning to find out what more happened to reconcile this, and then lead to the final break-up. The chronological order of the accounts helps the reader to follow the development of the relationship as Min would have, but at the same time I feel a more mixed account would have helped spice up the novel, and introduced more of a momentum to pursue the plot faster.

The content means that it could feel as if Min is a rather forgiving and gullible character, but Handler balances this with her strong monologue in order to create a strong character that portrays a realistic teenage girl. Furthermore his embedding of director’s terminology within the monologue increases it’s believability and poignancy. The novel’s unique format builds on this strong characterisation and plot to craft a strong, engaging novel, suitable for anyone who has ever been a teenager, particularly one who never filled the typical high school stereotype.

Recommended for fans of:

  • Paper Towns by John Green
  • Drawing with Light by Julia Green
  • The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder
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