BANG | Why We Broke Up

by Daniel Handler

I was in Barnes & Noble avoiding some kids I used to go to school with, ducking behind bookshelves, when the name Daniel Handler caught my eye. Daniel Handler? I thought. Isn’t that the dude who wrote A Series of Unfortunate Events?

(It’s probably worth mentioning that I had a childhood obsession with A Series of Unfortunate Events.)

Lemony Snicket’s real name is actually Daniel Handler. So of course I had to pick up his new book, Why We Broke Up. I wasn’t sure what I expected. It was surprisingly mild compared to the stuff he’d written as Lemony Snicket.

The title really says it all. The book follows the path of a doomed high school romance, start to finish. And although Min and Ed dated for like two months, the book is nearly 350 pages long. (Granted, there are also illustrations.)

Min is our uber-artsy narrator. She’s a little poetic and long-winded (just let the sentence end already!) but she’s a lot of fun. Ed is a popular basketball player. His personality is pretty generic, but Min’s loving and detailed descriptions of him make him likable.

Despite the book’s title I almost wanted Min and Ed to stay together, for Min’s sake. She idealized him. I sensed something was a little off with Ed, but it was easily overlooked. That was what Min did too. And so the realization that Ed had been cheating on her was especially jarring. I liked that all the warning signs that he was cheating weren’t obvious (because in real life they often aren’t). And I liked how Min dumped him for it because she deserved better. This book proved that you can be sentimental, whimsical, and nostalgic—all without being the fool.

So Basically…

Why We Broke Up is a good read if you can get past Min’s drawn-out, super-detailed narration. The book should have been 100 pages shorter. But it’s cute and bittersweet, how books about first love are supposed to be.

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