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Why We Broke Up: A Bittersweet Tale

Illustrations by Maira Kalman

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler


Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler grabs you from the opening line.

"I'm telling you why we broke up, Ed. I'm writing it in this letter, the whole truth of why it happened."

Whose inner voyeur doesn't want to be a fly on the wall during someone's break up. To witness firsthand if everyone's heartache is shaped like their own. Are the same cruel words thrown out in a fit of rage? Or can some handle it like civilized humans.

The biggest draw for me was the realism. The pangs of first love you could clearly hear in Min's retelling of their relationship and the demise of what was such a delicate thing to begin with. It reminded me of being young and in love. Of how it felt when that boy that wasn't supposed to like you because you belonged to different worlds kept furtively looking your way until one day he finally made a move. I think most people have that guy or girl in their lives. That one person who they can't ever imagine being with so when it finally happens they feel like it's too good to be true. And then it sadly turns out to be.

My story of heartache mirrored Min's just a little too much. I was in the tenth grade and I noticed him the moment I walked into my high school a year earlier. So when I saw him sitting in my 5th period health class I couldn't believe my luck. We became fast friends and began dating soon after. We had a quick and painful relationship. But it marked me for years to come. Reading Min's story, her heartache, her disbelief that someone who promised to love her could so cruelly disregard her heart was a balm to the tiny piece of my 10th grade broken heart I still carry with me.

The supporting characters, Min's love for classic films and the tie in's for each item she pulls out of her box made this feel like I was reading a perfectly wrapped present. A present that just so happened to contain someone elses broken heart. It was wonderful, sad, funny, cathartic and most of all bittersweet.