No, this isn't a personal break-up post.
I just finished a brilliant book called Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler. Most people know him from his fame as Lemony Snicket, the author of A Series of Unfortunate Events. The moment I made that connection, I knew this book was the next thing I NEEDED to read.
It is a young adult read, but (as I said in my Goodreads review) if you have ever been, almost been, or wanted to be in a relationship, you will understand this book. All of the emotions of relationships (any relationships really) --heartache, love, comfort and confusion -- are represented in this story.
Min Green is a high school student (sorry, I can't remember how old she is meant to be) in love with movies. From the very first pages she talks in scenes from old movies ("Lately, I've been like Aimee Rondele in The Sky Cries Too, a movie, French, you haven't seen it. She plays an assassin and dress designer, and she only smiles twice in the whole film.") She is sending her ex-boyfriend, Ed, the co-captain of the basketball team, a box of treasures from their relationship along with a letter that lists every single item, why it was important to her and why they are breaking up.
This story feels so unique. There is artwork littered throughout the book. Not unusual, exactly, but the way the art is used feels so easy, effortless maybe, and so right. Sometimes its a drawing of whatever item she is describing to Ed. Sometimes it is a simple pale blue page to punctuate the end of the story. It's subtle and I like it.
The writing style is interesting as well. In A Series of Unfortunate Events, Snicket was always hilariously morbid to me. I loved laughing as his melancholy turn of phrase for something so incredibly simple. That style is missing from this book. You have the same melancholy feel (in fact, if there is one word I would use to sum up the beauty in this book, I think that word would be "melancholy") in the style, but the sentences are run-ons, but not in the annoying, ungrammatically correct way. The sentences, they are a girl talking, trying to explain exactly what she is feeling without giving too much of herself away, trying to be strong and show Ed he doesn't matter, but man, how do you hide how much you really loved someone? (Actually they are rather like that last sentence I wrote.) And I loved it. I love that Min writes in a way that makes sense to me. It is hard to understand at first. I wasn't really expecting it. But once I saw what Handler was doing, I relished every long sentence, even the ones that I needed to go back and read twice.
I could really go on and on about this book. I finished it in what, just a few days? That ought to tell you something about how much I loved this book.
And, like with Kill Order, I am still mulling it all over. What does it mean to love someone? Can you love someone and never want to see them again? Can two people so different ever make a relationship work? What makes people stop loving each other?
Before you start saying, "Come on, they were in high school! It wasn't going to be forever!" I know. I know that. But still. Saying they were "just in high school" says to me "Their relationship didn't count." And I don't believe that it didn't count. It was real and it happened.
Yes, I know. They are fictional.
Stop raining on my book.
Why We Broke Up. Go read it. Seriously. This book is for everyone.