A few years ago, I reviewed David Levithan's collection of short stories, HOW THEY MET. An incurable romantic, Levithan was the perfect person to write this series of vignettes about the early days of young love. Likewise, Daniel Handler (who's best known as Lemony Snicket), with his own blend of world-weariness and sardonic humor, is perhaps the best possible author of a book titled WHY WE BROKE UP.
"Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman prove that the end of things can be just as compelling as their beginning."
The premise of the novel is both similar and familiar. Min (don’t call her Minnie) is on her way to deliver her ex-boyfriend Ed a box, chock-full of the detritus of their brief but intense relationship. As she rides in a truck driven by her best friend Al, Min --- in a voice both bitter and funny --- tells the story of their love affair through these objects, adding her own commentary through the lens of what she knows now.
There's the bottle caps from the beers they drank during their first conversation; the origami-folded first note he sent her in class; the ticket stub from the movie they saw on their first date; and the condom wrapper from the night Min lost her virginity. Maira Kalman's witty full-color illustrations of each of these objects opens a chapter, followed by Min's narration of the surrounding events. Often, she comes to a new revelation or realization in the course of relating a seemingly simple story: "I gave you an adventure, Ed, right in front of you but you never saw it until I showed you, and that's why we broke up."
Min is pretty but not beautiful, the kind of girl whom many describe as "interesting" and Ed describes as "arty." She wants to be a film director, and often relates moments in her own life to scenes or characters from the classic films she loves but that E