Saturday, March 31, 2012

Why We Broke Up

by Daniel Handler
art by: Maira Kalman
Published: Little Brown 2011
Pages: 354


This might be a little insensitive, but I'm writing to you to tell you why we broke up.  I fell in love with you, well not you, your mysterious Lemony Snicket.  I fell so hard in my childhood that I couldn't remember when the unfortunate event began or when it ended.  I wished that I could meet you and explain to you how you had changed my life.  I realized that the day would never come, so I settled for reading your books and wondering in amazement how clever Lemony Snicket  could be and how much I missed the lovely Beatrice, even though we also had never met.

Then Min showed up and broke up with Ed in 354 painful, yet beautiful pages.  She remembered every detail and hoped that writing it out would ease her pain and highlight Ed's.  I admired her for her ability to write it in front of her friend, Al.  The beautiful moments in the park, to the delightful party planning including stolen sugar and liquor--those moments were all noteworthy.  

I agree with Min, the bonfire should not have happened, and the ex-girlfriends' scene was most definitely awkward for her, but she got over them like a champ.  I guess it's because she joined their ranks.  I wish though that I could have seen more, that the party had actually happened.  There was so much anticipation and planning, but like all things, the breakup happened first. 

How could Min not see what was right in front of her?  Dan, why is Min so blind to her surroundings?  I felt like I was reading some scenes of impending doom, and I could not stop but wonder how much you could break my heart.  I found you could break it entirely. 

The pictures were so simple,  yet possibly one of the most ingenious parts of this story.  Who could have known that adding pictures could enhance a story so wonderfully, so expertly?  I may not have thoroughly enjoyed reading the journey of Ed and Min, but I enjoyed seeing what would be drawn next.   I looked forward to the moment when I found out what the object had to do with their relationship and why it was part of their downfall.

You may be good at heartbreak and unfortunate events, but your imagination is killer.  You have captivated me in such a way that cannot be forgiven.  You have stolen me from my friends and my job. Dan, you have kept me from sleep and from fresh air.  This is why we had to break up.

Love,  Alex


"Handler offers a heartbreaking, bittersweet, and compelling romance with a unique angle and flare." 
    - SLJ, starred review

"Handler shows exceptional skill at getting inside Min's head and heart."
    - Publisher's Weekly

"Brilliant...Maira Kalman's illustrations endow [the book's] inanimate objects with all of Min's emotion.  The male and femaile bottle caps of Scarpia's Bitter Black Ale from that first night they met seem to pulse with tension; pages of rose petals nearly fall from the book.  This book will resonate with teens--and even adults--because far too many of us have stood in Min's shoes."  
    - Shelf Awareness

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