Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Why We Broke Up

Daniel Handler wrote this YA book, with Maira Kalman illustrating.  As in, the same guy who did the Lemony Snicket series.  As you may guess it's slightly out of the ordinary from a lot of young adult literature.
Min and Ed are breaking up, so she's giving him a box with all of the mementos from their short-lived romance.  She's including a letter explaining the reason she kept all of these things, as well as why they never would have worked out any way, to go along with the chest of break-up goods.  The chief reason they are no longer a couple is that they're from different worlds: Min wears a lot of black and practically lives at the art film house in town, and Ed is the co-captain of the football team.  Their story is nothing earth-shattering, especially if you've seen any John Hughes film starring Molly Ringwald, but I couldn't help by be entranced by it.
I realize that as a 26-year-old, married woman, my days of teenage dating are way behind me; however, I couldn't help but feel my own high school days coming back to me through the pages of Why We Broke Up.  It's hard to remember, but dating when you're 16 is a wildly different affair from dating as a grown-up.  Handler obviously recalls being 16 and in love: the quickness of it, how you feel as though the world is conspiring against your burgeoning emotions, the judgment of high school cliques and mannerisms, even the folded notes in lockers that seem to hold more than just penciled words.  It seems almost quaint to read about the ease of Min and Ed's 4-week long relationship, and the month-anniversary celebrations and bonfires with the popular kids.  Daniel Handler, take me back to a simpler time!
It should be noted that each item in the box is represented by a lovely illustration by Maira Kalman.  It's printed on beautiful, thick, heavy paper that actually feels like a workout to carry around.  It's not just another YA relationship book.

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