I’ve seen this book on the local bookstore shelves since last year but always walked pass it in search of something else. I never bothered reading the blurb – because let’s be honest here, it doesn’t leave much to the imagination – and I was never really interested in buying a copy either. But when I found it on sale at the Bargain Books Warehouse I figured, why not? It sounded like a cute contemporary to read when I’m not in the mood for anything heavy. I wasn’t expecting to read it so soon, nor did I think it would get under my skin enough to write a full review.
I’m telling you why we broke up, Ed. I’m writing it in this letter, the whole truth of why it happened.
Min Green and Ed Slaterton are breaking up, so Min is writing Ed a letter and giving him a box. Inside the box is why they broke up. Two bottle caps, a movie ticket, a folded note, a box of matches, a protractor, books, a toy truck, a pair of ugly earrings, a comb from a motel room, and every other item collected over the course of a giddy, intimate, heartbreaking relationship. Item after item is illustrated and accounted for, and then the box, like a girlfriend, will be dumped.
A few pages into the book I immediately put it down and logged onto Goodreads to check out the ratings. Things weren’t looking too bright for this little blue book, so I headed over to YouTube and watched a book talk by Books and Lala to hear what she had to say, since she loved the book – going so far as giving it a 5/5 star rating! The thing that I quickly realised was that this was one of those books that you either love or hate; there is seriously nothing in between… But after completing this one in less than a day, I beg to differ.
The reason I put this book down after a few pages was the writing style. It was clumsy and confusing as hell, and sometimes it just contained a long string of utterly meaningless thoughts by the narrator – which I hated! I never read anything so unnecessarily complicated in a while! And really, there was NO reason for anything in this book to be complicated because it was all very black and white! I felt like the author was either trying way too hard or not trying hard enough; and this resulted in a truly shoddy depiction of teen conversation and thought patterns… not okay!
Since the writing was a huge problem for me, the characters ended up being a massive problem too. Not because they were bad characters, but because they were all. Exactly. The. Same! The cringe-worthy awkwardness didn’t stay with the narrator either, or the male love interest for that matter. It wasn’t even contained within the world of teenagers; but it actually spilled over into the older characters, even going so far as the posters and mementos! It was like this book was based in a realm of bad speech and communication skills. The only character I really liked at first glance was Lauren, who had a very special ability to talk like an actual person! And we only get to read about her in a few short pages! What even is that???
Gosh, I didn’t realise how much this book affected me!! I will try to simmer down on the rant review from here on out…
As you can see, there was more than enough reason for me to give this one a 1/5 stars on Goodreads and leave it at that. But this is where my mixed feelings come in… I read it in less than 24 hours. The story line, albeit totally predictable and inevitable, was actually quite lovely. It was simply a story sharing one girl’s experience of first love and heart break – and really there was nothing else to it. A tale of the sucky truth that comes with being a teenager. But somehow it crept into my heart – for the record, my heart is not at all happy about this arrangement!
Reading this book was such a unique experience. I absolutely hated it, yet somehow managed to mould that hate into a likable tolerance. I’ve never fully experienced that saying “there’s a thin line between love and hate” with a book until I completed Why We Broke Up, and this is why it got under my skin. The determination and tenacity to crawl its way into my heart, was just too much to ignore…
Even with everything that royally pissed me off, Why We Broke Up was a cute read. When I made an effort to look beyond those things that annoyed me I can admit that there is a real story there that doesn’t pretend to be something that it is not. And I really appreciated this when I reached the end: the narrator reflects on who she is and what the traces of devastation meant to her; placing me square in the middle, and giving this book a 3/5 stars on Goodreads.