Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman

There are over twenty reasons why Ed Slaterton and Min Green broke up. She’s too ‘arty;’ he’s too athletic. He could never see what she saw, whether it was in her head or right in front of them. She wants what can’t happen. He doesn’t get movies the way she does. So they broke up. That’s their story. What’s yours? If you have a mind to tell it, you can actually join the Why We Broke Up Project at http://whywebrokeupproject.tumblr.com/.

Why We Broke Up is illustrated by Maira Kalman and written by Daniel Handler. (Mr. Handler, for those who don’t know, is the author of A Series Of Unfortunate Events. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Lemony Snicket wrote this book. Well, sort of.)

Min meets Ed at her best friend Al’s Bitter Sixteen. (Yep, Bitter Sixteen. I kind of wish I had done that . . . ) Al and Min are best friends for a reason: they get coffee every day, they go shopping in vintage stores, they watch old foreign movies together, they make complicated Italian meals courtesy of Al’s parents’ gourmet grocery shop. They just work. And as badly as Min wants it to work as easily with Ed, it just doesn’t. Sure, she tries to convince him to drink coffee and drags him away from his bed at the buttcrack of dawn to explore a vintage store she loves that’s only open for a few hours each week, but as much work as she puts into the relationship, they just can’t seem to click the right way. Everyone seems to know that Min and Ed’s relationship is doomed from the beginning: Al (though he insists he has no opinion); Ed’s sister, Joan; even Ed’s ex-girlfriends. After all, a film nerd and a star basketball player? Their backgrounds and friends are so drastically different: Ed loves bon fires and Min loves movie nights; Ed plays basketball and Min spends hours creating the perfectly obscure Halloween costume. Though Min tries to fight it, their relationship is a short one. They meet at a party, they see an old film, they plan a party for an aging movie star who may or may not live near them, and then they break up.

The novel is actually a letter Min writes to Ed after their relationship is over (a 300 page letter, mind you). In it, she includes a description of every item she collected while they were dating, along with the items themselves, which accompany the letter in a box of their own. After a shocking revelation from Al and a sudden realization about herself, Min figures the breakup is the right choice. But it’s delightfully dramatic anyway.

Why We Broke Up is a fun read. It is real, sincere, and laugh-out-loud hilarious. Min could be that girl who sits next to you in art class, and Ed could be the captain of your school’s basketball team. It’s a fantastic YA read by an author we all already love. I give it four out of five jars of Nutella. (And I just got a jar two days ago!)


Marna is a current high school student on the East Coast. Reading, writing, and music are her LIFE, as well as her friends and family. She is in the process of writing about four different novels (because her attention span is insanely short) and she hopes to become published very soon!

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