Why We Broke Up, written by Daniel Handler and illustrated by Maira Kalman

From author Daniel Handler (AKA Lemony Snicket) comes the story of Min Green and Ed Slaterton. Predictably, these two have broken up.

I found Why We Broke Up to be an enjoyable, if not particularly thought-provoking read. It relied heavily on archetypes (eg. “that one artsy girl”, “the playboy jock”, “loyal friend-zoned best friend”, etc.), which was a little disappointing, but effort was made to make sure that each character had their own quirks and motivations. It’s a book with lots of “we’re young and stupid and completely in love” vibes, if you like that sort of thing. (I do.)

One thing that I found the story did really well was the lack of “perfect” characters– the main character, Min, has a ton of shortcomings, along with the other characters, and they’re all addressed and handled fairly well. This is one of the areas in which Why We Broke Up really shines– the characters are pretentious, yes, but they feel real. Relatable, even. I mean, who isn’t a little pretentious over here? We’re a bunch of teenagers on a blog about reading books. C’mon. Personally, I enjoyed it most of the time.

The writing style wasn’t quite stream-of-consciousness, but there were definitely segments that were edging into that category. This is where the Lemony Snicket comes through– the wry humour and the odd, slightly uncomfortable, but undeniably neat feel. (Why We Broke Up is written in first person, epistolary novel-style.) I felt that the style of writing lent itself really beautifully to the sort of hazy atmosphere of the story. There’s a bit of surrealism that sticks with you, even after you’ve closed the book.

There is one truly amazing element to this book, though… The artwork! Each chapter is accompanied with an awesome illustration, in a style I found to be really fresh and endearing! This makes the physical book surprisingly heavy– I’d recommend checking it out, if only to feel the good quality paper and take a look at the artwork.

Overall, a read that wasn’t subversive, but felt new/interesting. Stunning artwork. 7.5/10 would recommend!

*Content warning; there’s sex in this book. It’s not graphic or heavily-described, but it’s mentioned.