Friday, June 15, 2012

Why We Broke Up

I am going to start off on a tangent to partially explain why I loved this book.  When Chicken Soup for the Soul books were all the rage, I read one story entitled Eleven.  In it, this girl is turning eleven, but she has a bad day and is made to wear a stinky sweater, and she cries because it's her birthday and why is she being made to wear a stinky sweater?  The point it, she says that she feels like there is a penny for every year inside a tin box, so there are eleven pennies just rattling around, but right now she doesn't feel eleven, she feels four, and that's why she cries.

Well, I still have all of my pennies rattling around too, all thirty of them (when did that happen?) and this book makes me feel like I'm about 15, and my heart's being broken, and you know it's coming and you know it's going to hurt, but you can't stop it.  What I'm saying is, there's a 15 year old in you too.  Let that girl out and read this book.

Why We Broke Up

Min loves old movies, coffee, theater and being with her friends, but when co-captain of the basketball team, Ed Slatherton, shows up at her best friend Al's Bitter Sixteen birthday party, her world changes.  Ed asks for her number and actually calls.  Now, Min, who is "arty" and "different" is with popular Ed at basketball games and bonfires and parties.  Ed makes changes too, seeing movies with Min, drinking coffee, and going to obscure stores.  He even helps Min with her idea to have a party for Lottie Carson after Min thinks she sees her at a screening for one of her old movies.  Ed finds the perfect location and helps Min make an igloo out of square eggs.

But Min doesn't fit in Ed's world and Ed doesn't fit in Min's, a fact which Ed's sister Joan sees all too well.  Joan knows exactly what is going to happen to Min, but she can't express it, although she tries in her own subtle way.  So, what should have ended at Halloween, with a bad prisoner and warden costume and exes rearing their ugly heads, doesn't end until after a hotel room, a lie, and a fight in a florist shop.  It's brutal.

So Min boxes up all the little mementos for this from this month or so long relationship and gives them back to Ed, explaining each one; the movie ticket, the tiny truck, the sticky burr, the matchbox and so on.  And in each chapter, you can tell why they broke up, the big reasons and the small reasons.  My inner fifteen year old totally got it.

Daniel Handler, aka Lemony Snicket, did something amazing here.  First of all, this is miles away from Lemony Snicket, not the same at all, thank goodness.  But he showed so well the breakdown of this relationship, and all the emotions within.  It was masterful.

Maybe I'm overselling this book, maybe I'm not doing it justice, but read it.  You'll see.  Maybe I'm the only social outlier that kept weird stuff from relationships and let it eat me alive, but I'm not, I know it.  Read the book, relive the pain, and know that love is sweet because of the bitterness.

Happy Reading!

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