Why We Broke Up, by Daniel Handler

Why We Broke Up, by Daniel Handler

Daniel Handler, of Lemony Snicket fame, wrote this book. And wrote it well. So well that it just won a 2012 Printz Award honor.

Min and Ed broke up. Now Min is delivering to him a box full of the paraphernalia of their relationship. Mementos, ticket stubs, etc. All of the things that we keep when we’re infatuated. And she’s delivering them to Ed with a letter, explaining why, precisely, they broke up. In the process, she relates their entire story. Starting with a description of their first encounter. Here’s part of it:

–and then you asked me my name. I told you it was Min, short for Minerva, Roman goddess of wisdom, because my dad was getting his master’s when I was born, and that, don’t even ask, no you couldn’t, only my grandmother could call me Minnie because, she told me and I imitated her voice, she loved me the best of anyone.

You said your name was Ed. Like I might not know that. (18)

When I picked this up off of the library shelf, I was surprised by how heavy it was. It’s heavy because half of the book is illustrations by Maira Kalman. And they are woven so well into the story that I couldn’t help but love them. WWBU is also replete with references to old movies and actors – all of which Handler made up. Let’s see. Nothing groundbreaking about the plot; it’s the story of a couple meeting and parting ways. So, it’s cliche in the way every relationship is cliche but unique in the way every relationship is unique. And the characters felt real. I liked Min and her group of friends, especially Al. And Joan. And sometimes even Ed.

I can see why this one won a Printz honor. Mostly, I suspect for the clever formatting and illustrations. But also, for the writing and the characters.

Why We Broke Up, by Daniel Handler [rating:4]

Have you read or reviewed this book too? Feel free to jump in with your thoughts or leave a link to your review in the comments.