Title: Why We Broke Up
Author: Daniel Handler
ISBN: 978-0-316-12725-7 hardcopy
978-1-611-13540-4 Audiobook (downloadable)
978-1-611-13296-0 Audiobook (CD)
Division: Little, Brown and Company
Publisher: Hachette Book Group, Inc.
Jacket Design: Gail Doobinin
Jacket Art & Illustrator: Maira Kalman
Audiobook (downloadable & CD)
Page Count: 354 pages (with many illustrations)
Awards: 2012 Printz Honor Book
The physically heaviest hardcopy fiction book ever…
The story’s ending occurs on the first page with a letter, then the thunk of a box. Min and Ed have broken up. The book, though, is about why Min and Ed broke up. It is about the small things – characterized by the keepsakes in a box – that caused this relationship to not work.
The story is told using the keepsakes to identify and bring to life Min and Ed’s special moments, events in their relationship. The keepsakes aren’t generally valuable, they are bottle tops, sugar, a book of recipes, a toy truck, a ticket; all small things. But each keepsake tells a story about this short relationship.
A romance crossed with graphic novel, each keepsake is shown to us as if part of Min’s movie. We see the item; we are told the story. We know the ending, but read on to find out what really happened. It is about different points of view, different goals, different kinds of adolescent self-interest, but always about the heartache of love.
Min is a want-to-be movie director and the book is presented to us as a movie. We see the ending, then flashback to the beginning of the story of Min and Ed’s short but poignant relationship, all told to us by Min.
Written from Min’s first person point of view, we learn how she saw the relationship, how she experienced it, how she saw the limitations of the relationship as it went along – or at least how she saw it in hindsight. The perspective is that of a describer of the emotional content of scenes, rather than as a more intimate narrator. Yet, it tells the story well from Min’s viewpoint. We know what it was that wasn’t working in the relationship and we know the angst of having it end.
Not only do we see the story in movie scenes, Min gives us films as references, full synopsis of films, which along with music are fictional. Yet, the reader believes them to be real movies we could go the theaters to see or music to be purchased on iTunes.
From the beginning we know the relationship of Min (Minerva) Green, high school junior and Ed Slaterton, a senior, will not work out. It ends at the beginning. Small mementoes in a box tell the story of what happened in their relationship and why it failed.
Information about the Author:
Daniel Handler writes for YA and adults under his name. His books include: The Basic Eight, Watch Your Mouth and Adverbs. For younger audiences he uses his pseudonym Lemony Snicket. The Lemony Snicket-authored books include the 13-volume Series of Unfortunate Events, 13 Words, and his most recent 29 Myths on the Swinster Pharmacy, illustrated by his wife, Lisa Brown, an accomplished author/illustrator herself.
Handler grew up in San Francisco, the son of an opera singer/college dean and an accountant who was a Jewish refugee from Germany. Growing up he sang in the San Francisco Boys Chorus, went to Lowell High School, and graduated from Wesleyan University. He won the 1990 Poets Prize from the Academy of American Poets. He collaborated with composer Nathaniel Stookey on a piece commissioned and recorded by the San Francisco Symphony, entitled The Composer is Dead.
Very bright with a quick dry wit, he can be quiet, funny, dryly sarcastic, and genuine but always with fast and clever responses to interview questions.
Why did you breakup?
Official Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dC34V0akNec
Why We Broke Up Project: http://whywebrokeupproject.tumblr.com/
KQED interview of Lemony Snicket: http://www.kqed.org/a/forum/R201402211000
Reading Level/Interest Age
Interest Level: Grades 10-12
Reading Level: Grade level equivalent: 5.0
Underage alcohol and illegal drug use