From the back cover:
This is the box, Ed.
Inside is everything.
Two bottle caps,
a movie ticket from Greta in the Wild,
a note from you,
a box of matches,
the stolen sugar,
a toy truck,
those ugly earrings,
a comb from the motel,
and the rest of it.
This is it, Ed.
The whole store of why we broke up.
Let’s see how long I can go without mistakenly referring to Daniel Handler as Lemony Snicket. Oh damn, I just did it didn’t I? I might as well get this out of the way then. Yes, Handler and Snicket are the same person. However, in terms of writing style, they are vastly different. Why We Broke Up, Handler’s third book released under his real name, lacks the wit and sharpness found in the Series of Unfortunate Events series, yet We We Broke Up does have its own merit and is worth considering.
Why We Broke Up is a love story told in hindsight. Minerva, Min for short, and Ed had a relationship that ended (i’m not spoiling anything, just rephrasing the book’s title). This book is written as if it were a long letter from Min to Ed explaining the events of their relationship that caused Min to end it.
Min is a geeky film fanatic who falls in love with Ed, co-captain of the high school basketball team. When they first meet, it’s clear that these two characters are not meant for each other; they are complete opposites. For some reason, they hit it off and decide to give it shot. Ed and Min try to become more involved in the actives that interest the other, Min going to his games and Ed seeing weird, arty films. There were points where Ed drops his jock personality and appears to be actually interested in the things Min is into. In those moments I believed that there might be a future for their relationship.
Since Min is the narrator here, it’s impossible to tell if she is retelling the events as they actually happened, or if she’s putting her own personal, spiteful spin on them. For most of the book I didn’t think Ed was that bad of a guy. If anything, I thought Min’s stubbornness might be the real reason they broke up and not all the items she lists. Mayhaps she was adding spite to the letter just to hurt Ed’s feelings as he reads it.
By the end of the book, when the big reason why they broke up is revealed, it’s one of those moments that could only be described as ‘anti-climatic’. The final reason made perfect sense as to why they broke up, but it also makes all the other reasons that came before it less impactful. I mean, really, a toy truck is one of the reasons they broke up, oh, and that big thing too. I understand from a literary stand point that Handler had to work up to the climax of the book, but when it hits, it makes all the other reasons (and the 300+ pages spent explaining them) seem kind of moot.
We We Broke Up is a sad story about a couple that shouldn’t be together. The reader knows it, and they’re waiting for the moment for it to dawn on Min or Ed. This book does a really good job at being unique compared to all the other YA novels about two teenagers who fall in love and it worth checking out if the initial premises sounds like something you would like.
Closing Thoughts: I liked this book, but it was a bit of a downer. Also, are high school students really this annoying/stupid?
Question: Can we get some more Lemony Snicket books please? A Series of More Unfortunate Events?