Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler, art by Maira Kalman; published by Little, Brown and Co., New York, 2011; 354 pages.

NOTE: This review is based on an ARC (advance reading copy) provided for free by the publisher.  The publication information is subject to change.  Expected publication date is December 27, 2011.

Dear Ed Slaterton,

We are breaking up.  In this box are all the stupid mementos I saved during our time together.  They all represent how happy, silly, and heartbreaking our time was.  They all tell how I found myself, lost you, and rediscovered my best friend.  They all tell you the reasons why we broke up.

Love Min Green.

Daniel Handler has crafted a soaring and sweet, crashing and burning then resurrecting story in the form of a long, rambling letter from the heartbroken to the heartbreaker.  Using the letter format is genius in this case.  The intimacy of reading a break-up letter, especially from the perspective of the heart-broken, makes the emotion palpable and most people will relate.  Add Maira Kalman’s illustrations of the items in the box, and it’s like sitting with a friend at the end of a doomed relationship (one you predicted would end horribly).

The ARC I received included color postcards featuring illustrations expected in the finished book.  Also included was a postcard to add a break up story to the Why We Broke Up Project.  Adding a story is much easier now that the dedicated website is up and running.  Anyone can add a personal story or eavesdrop on the stories of others, including celebrities like Neil Gaiman, Sara Zarr and Brian Selznick.   Check it out here:

The ARC was printed on glossy, heavy stock.  I loved the feel of the pages and hope the final product is similar.  The art, paper and font all work together, creating the illusion of reading a real letter.  The blood red cover, hand written title and author/illustrator attributions also feed the illusion.  Again, I hope it will be the final cover as it not only hints at the contents but also will be attractive to teens.

4P     4Q     Grade Level: 10-12

Cover Art: As stated above, the color and font choices make this ARC cover ideal for the book and for reaching teens.  Let’s hope it’s the final art for the book.

From Reading List: Survival in Love War or Sports


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