Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

Why We Broke Up is a beautiful meeting of visual art and words.  Yes, this book is illustrated.  And no, it’s definitely not for kids.  Why We Broke Up is a letter from Min to her ex-boyfriend Ed.  She is writing to him to tell him exactly why they broke up.  In her letter, she revisits items she collected throughout their short, intense relationship.  A beer bottle cap, a ticket stub, a toy truck – Min puts them all in a box and tells their story to Ed, and to us.

By reading this book, these objects take on meaning.  The artistic representations of each object are slowly, one by one, attached to your heart strings by the words of Daniel Handler, until the otherwise emotionless paintings make you feel something.  Romantic meaning is made where there was previously just a rubber band, or a ripped poster.

Ed and Min are from opposite social worlds, and try as they might, this book lets the reader know that even in high school, some people don’t change.  Sometimes when reading Why We Broke Up, I felt truth hit me, like I was reading my own unfiltered diary from a miserable time.  There is something to this book that everyone who has had their heart broken can recognize.

Review by Annica, CLP-West End

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