Why We Broke Up - Maira Kalman, Daniel Handler

I'm telling you why we broke up, Ed. I'm writing it in this letter, the whole truth of why it happened. Min Green and Ed Slaterton are breaking up, so Min is writing Ed a letter and giving him a box. Inside the box is why they broke up. Two bottle caps, a movie ticket, a folded note, a box of matches, a protractor, books, a toy truck, a pair of ugly earrings, a comb from a motel room, and every other item 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.

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Note to Readers: You may know author Daniel Handler more for his Lemony Snicket's A Series Of Unfortunate Events series

 

 

What with the rave reviews Booktube has been giving this book and all the videos / Instagram pics I've seen showing the illustrations, I thought this would be a sure thing. Nah, not so much for me. In fact, so far I think this is the winner for MOST BORING book I've read so far this year. The dialogue was such a slog for me, not much of anything happened with the actual storyline, and the characters themselves ... OMG. Min likes over-seasoning everything with the G-D curse word, while Ed constantly labels anything even remotely artistic as "gay". So you know she found herself a winner there.

I honestly have no idea why these two tried to be a couple for any length of time. The commonalities between them are pretty tenuous. It's fine for people to come from different interests -- for instance, Min likes classic movies while Ed's love is basketball -- but these two don't seem to really love each other's company all that much. Sure, they acknowledge finding each other good-looking, and Ed keeps talking about Min's "arty" nature that's "so different from other girls" (yep, his interest leans heavily on this trope) but he also spends a lot of time pointing out the different ways it's kind of a turn-off sometimes. Min also seems to use a lot of the stories behind the items as a way to show Ed how he failed her as a boyfriend. Which had me thinking, "Did you not think to maybe talk this out with him while IN the relationship?" {But what am I saying, these are teenagers and as teenagers most of us notably sucked at the finer points of coupling.} It was hard to understand how they could act like they were mostly just tolerating each other, constantly pointing out what bugs them about each other, but then throwing around I Love You's at the same time.

It seemed a bit like petty silent tallying of wrongs, which is a classic killer of any relationship. Especially pointless when you come to the end and see what really ended them is one of the most common reasons for ANY couple to break up. So in the end, it ain't all that deep or epic. And neither was the journey to get there. Hence, most boring read for me so far this year.

I give it credit for beautiful book design (at least for the hardcover copy I read from) and the intriguing story CONCEPT. The concept is a large part of what peaked my curiosity. The execution of the concept makes me hesitant to pick up any more of Handler's books. (I mean, I probably will... just won't be in a huge hurry to do it.)