I had bought this book last year and since then was struggling with it. I would read fifty pages or so and give it up for another read. It happens most of the time and that doesn’t mean that the book is bad, maybe the timing for sure is. It has happened to me in the past, so I do not think much of it. So when I picked up “Why We Broke Up” again this time, I was enthralled by the plot and more so by the art by Maira Kalman, which by the way is beautifully done throughout the book.
For every time a couple breaks up there are things that are returned. That is almost the unwritten law of breaking up, of ending it all, of finding the so-called state of “closure”. We return things because they are memories – of times of happiness and now evoke only sadness, which is the truth. Min and Ed, two teenagers whose relationship has ended are at the heart of this novel. They are an improbable couple, who had nothing in common and yet they fell in love. They split ways and the story is narrated from Min’s perspective who is now returning “stuff” that she collected (or stuff that was given by Ed to her) during the course of their relationship, explaining why they broke up and what happened between them.
Min is studying to be a filmmaker, so the entire process and atmosphere of the book is rather dramatic, but only fair, since it is about heartache. There are a lot of references to old films which is brilliant, because I now have to watch most of them. Love also needs so many mediums to speak through. In this case, it is movies.
Heartache at any age is counted for and should be. It is not easy, more so when you are young. I found the story a little too biased, as it was only from Min’s perspective, but that was compensated more so by the plot and writing. What will take you in the most about the book is also the illustrations, which are beautifully and masterfully done so by Maira Kalman. I loved the book so much in most parts and I also thought that maybe I would have loved to hear Ed’s point of view in all of this. After all it is only fair. The secondary characters – the best friends and ex-lovers make for some quirky characters in the book as well. Ed’s sister Joan is a vital character and it is not difficult to fall in love with her.
I do not like reading Young Adult fiction all that much, however as I have said again and again in this post, I loved this book. It is but the nature of love and heartbreak, its universality that would resonate and strike with anyone who reads about it. One more thing: You cannot read it in an electronic book format. The effect and sentiment will not be the same, given the illustrations and also the quality of paper. I recommend you read it, get your heart broken, mend it and then read it all over again.