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A Reading Vocation

"I Must Read, Read, and Read. It is my Vocation." - Thomas Merton

This is where I chronicle my reading life.  I also blog about writing at Lacey's Late-night Editing.

 

Book 102/100: Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

Why We Broke Up - Daniel Handler, Maira Kalman

I'd been wanting to read this book for a long time, but I was somewhat disappointed when I finally got to it. The format is intriguing--a set of letters connected to "objects" (matchbox, movie poster, etc.) that a girl returns to her ex-boyfriend at the end of the relationship. First I had to suspend my disbelief a little bit that she would have the fortitude to write SO MUCH at the end of the relationship, but that's not a huge issue. I had more of an issue with the writing itself. It seemed as if the book were trying very hard to go for a unique and "authentic" teenage voice, unpolished, but it really just felt as if I were reading a first draft. Several of the sentences really tripped me up and required rereading. And the voice wasn't strong enough to justify all that extra work.

The characterization was fairly well done, especially for Ed. Really, Ed was the most vivid aspect of this book, which is fitting, since it was all set up as a letter to him. What this book does best is really capture the wonder and excitement and rush of first love without romanticizing it or relying on cliches. It also is spot on in its depiction of the strain of dating someone who is very different from the circle you usually run in, and somehow trying to merge those two worlds, as well as the tension that comes from devoting less time to your friends in the first obsessive stages of love. The ultimate reason behind the breakup cut me to the quick and left me feeling as betrayed as Min. Then the end sort of petered out in an anti-climactic way that I don't even really remember anyway.

What this book does well, it does very well. It just wasn't the complete package I hoped it would be.