Hello! Hopefully I’ve scheduled this correctly… my first EVER guest post on Reader.Writer.Nerd! The honour goes to the lovely Kathryn, a maths geek and fellow bookworm who I originally met through my boyfriend a few years ago and then proceeded to stalk her rather excellent tumblr blog about all about the brilliant little moments in life and fangirl with her obsessively over twitter . She likes Disney, Sherlock, Doctor Who, Harry Potter, John Green, Numb3rs, tea, photography…need I go on? Go say hello to her, she’s awesome.
ANYWAY, as I’m (hopefully) avoiding getting a tan and clambering up volcanoes and squealing over giant turtles AT THIS EXACT MOMENT, I’ll let Kathryn take the wheel….
I’m Kathryn! 21 years old and an Actuarial Trainee in York, UK.
Despite my love of maths, I also love the written word. It’s fallen out of focus with my degree course and I miss it. So here’s me trying to get back into the world of books and be transported to another world, or anywhere really, so long as its not here…
I was once a librarian as a Saturday Job, something I will miss when I head into the working world as a mathematician. I think my love of books will always make me go back to it one day. For now, I post reviews on Goodreads whilst I dream up the perfect title for my own book blog… I’m practising on here by talking about Why We Broke Up by Daniel Hadler, illustrated by Maira Kalman.
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.
I’m still kind of undecided about this book. In fact I had to leave it a few weeks after finishing it to write the review because I didn’t know how to put into words how I felt about it. However, I know I’m going to forget all the things I have almost formed in my head if I don’t do this now. I will do my very best to include as few spoilers as possible.
When this book started up, I loved it. I adored the style, with the sketches as an introduction to each chapter and a story to go with each. The matchbox, a movie ticket, a cook book… It made each ‘act’ seem a little more real. Maria Kalman was the perfect choice for this too; her style perfectly complimented the book.
I loved the quirkiness of Min, a total film geek who can relate everything and anything in her life to a scene in an old cult film, and her group of friends that embrace that same philosophy. So even though we had different ‘things’ , I understood her and her passion. I also identified with the typical angst and neurosis that underpins this story, and may other YA books. The thing I loved the most was how honest it was; it highlighted losing yourself, or at least parts of yourself, through a relationship. Min drops those friends quite quickly when Ed comes into the picture, and starts changing parts of her life and personality to fit into his ‘popular’ world. I think a lot of people can probably identify with that.
That said it was all very cliché; ‘loser’ girl falls in love with basketball star. To begin with it’s all perfect… and then (surprise, surprise) he screws it up. Then she realises how wonderful her ‘just best friend’ has been all that time. And we could all see that coming from the start. This wouldn’t be so bad if the book wasn’t so long. To have to trawl through 350+ pages knowing pretty much what is going to happen just meant the story dragged for the most part, with unnecessary whingeing and crazy, obscure movie references. The fact you could see the conclusion before it began made the journey up until the breakup, therefore most of the book, totally redundant.
My biggest qualm was that in parts it was so badly written. I am being totally truthful when I say I found myself calling people to read passages to them, because I wanted to see if they made any sense to them. Nine times out of ten they didn’t have a clue what Daniel Handler was supposed to be getting at either. I ended up having to forget they existed and just move on or I would never have finished the book.
I still don’t know what I really think of “Why We Broke Up”. I kept reading expecting it to get better but it never quite clicked with me. Maybe this is just as sign that I’m no longer clicking with the YA shelf in general (with the obvious exception of John Green…), because I think 15 year old me might have loved this book and found it more relate-able than I do now.
Anyone else read this? Do you agree with the constructive criticism offered by Kathryn? I’m tempted to give it a go myself to see what I think!