Monday, 6 August 2012

Review: Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman

In One Line:  Min fell in love with Ed - but this is why they broke up. 

Genre: Epic stream-of-consciousness poetic perfection

The Gist:

This is one of those reviews when I don’t want to tell you a single thing about the book because I want you to read it SO MUCH and I just can’t stand to think of clouding your opinion and whatnot. But essentially the brilliant and incredible Min has just broken up with basketball co-captain Ed, and is heading over to his house to dump a big box on his doorstep. A box containing all the trinkets and magic of their short relationship, and all the reasons why they broke up. 

The Cover:

Let’s not just talk about the cover here people. Let’s talk about the ILLUSTRATIONS. Because this book is illustrated throughout with all the stuff that’s in Min’s big box. And I was on the tube reading this, and even though I knew they were just pictures I actually had to trace each one with my fingers because they were all so tangible and beautiful. And the cover is so stunning, and I could see people on the tube glaring at it wondering what the hell I was reading and I wanted to just shout out and insist that everyone else read it too. Just holding the hardback book in your hands is an experience in itself. So yeah. You might be able to tell that I like it. 

without the dust jacket

Why You’ll Love This Book
  • It’s beautiful. Poetic. Intelligent. Deserves to escape the boundaries of ‘genre’ and get on some literary prize shortlists. Because there are still some suckers out there who think that fiction for teenagers is all about vampires and children killing children for TV kicks. Well this isn’t just a book. It’s a fricking piece of art. 
  • I love Min so much. I love that her full name is Minerva. I love that she has to tell everyone the story of how she got her name. I love that she FEELS so deeply and thinks that she’s an adult but really she isn’t and is completely obsessed with movies that I’ve never even heard of. I especially love that I’d blatantly be part of her group of friends. God I wish Min were real so we could chat about how much the world bloody sucks right now. 
  • I love that there is absolutely NOTHING like this book out there at the moment. Apologies if there actually is, but I’m just not aware of them. I hate that people may want to copy the style and will never, ever be able to emulate it. Because Daniel Handler is obviously not a real person, but some kind of literary genius. And also Lemony Snicket. 
  • Are the movies referred to in this book real? No, wait, don’t tell me. I absolutely don’t want to know. Min is obsessed with Golden Age cinema, and maybe at the beginning of the book I thought about googling some of the things she talks about, and then I thought HECK NO. I don’t even care if they’re real or not. In fact I prefer to believe that Daniel Handler made it all up and this is just part of the magic. So if the movie references are real I just don’t care. It all makes Min just that bit more beautiful. 

expensive plum wine

Why You May Not Love This Book:
  • Ed needs a lot of showers. He showers very frequently throughout the book. This concerns me. 
  • There’s lot’s of weird food in this book. Even an egg igloo. I’m not a foodie, and I don’t really get foodies, so maybe this didn’t work so well for me. Also, apparently there is caviar inside the egg igloo, and I think that’s kind of gross. 
  • By the time you get to the end, your heart will be broken into a million rose-petal-shaped pieces. And you may have to take some quiet time to pull yourself back together. This book has ALL OF THE FEELINGS. And if you can’t handle those feelings right now, just give yourself some space. But do please still read this book. Every single living soul on the planet should read this book. 

I can't stop thinking about you

The Hypersomnia Test:

No brainer. I didn’t want this book to end. I read it slowly, languorously, hoping that I could make it last a little longer. And when I was on the tube, prime nap time I should point out, my journey went by in double speed because I was so entirely engrossed in Min and all her deep, deep and many feelings. 

movie star
Final Verdict:

This book is utterly perfect. There is not a single word out of place. The gorgeous pictures enhance everything and never detract. And I just wish that I could wipe my memory so that I can read it all over again. One of my books of the year so far. And it will take some beating, I’m telling you. 

Further Reading:

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan

To buy Why We Broke Up please click HERE!!!


  1. This book sounds wonderful, definitely on my TBR list - thanks for the review.

  2. Love the sound of this, I've added it my my list of book to read too.

  3. Oh, this is on my wishlist. I just love the cover. So simple yet says it all.
    Thanks for the review and for not giving too much away.