And one of the books that I read was Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman's Why We Broke Up.
So here is my question to you all: WHY DIDN'T SOMEONE SIT ME DOWN AND MAKE ME READ IT SOONER?
Because, HO. LY. COW.
I loved it.
I loved it so much that immediately after finishing it, I jumped online and ordered a copy for myself. In hardback.
As you probably already know, the book itself is about the rise and fall of Min Green and Ed Slaterton's relationship. The entire thing is an epic letter that Min, film buff extraordinaire, writes to Ed, basketball star, after their break-up. Her plan is to toss it into the box that holds all of the objects she has that are related to him, and then to chuck it onto his porch, drive away, and BE DONE WITH HIM FOREVER. Daniel Handler wrote the text, and Maira Kalman painted pictures of each object that is included in the box, and again, I loved this book so much that I can't even.
Min's voice. Her love of old movies comes screaming through in her voice, both in her dialogue and in her writing. She's super-bright, a bit pretentious (and she knows it), she's funny and she's hurting and she's over Ed completely except when she's not. And her RHYTHM. The rhythm, the way that Handler strings the words together... it's just phenomenal, in how they feel totally RIGHT, and how the book just BEGS to be read aloud. (Ask Josh, he'll tell you. I read, like, three-quarters of it aloud to him because I JUST COULDN'T STOP MYSELF.)
Like this bit, about the first note that Ed wrote to her:
And this note was a jittery bomb, ticking beneath my normal life, in my pocket fiercely reread, in my purse all week until I was afraid it would get crushed or snooped, in my drawer between two dull books to escape my mother and then in the box and now thunked back to you. A note, who writes a note like that? Who were you to write one to me? It boomed inside me the whole time, an explosion over and over, the joy of what you wrote to me jumpy shrapnel in my bloodstream. I can't have it near me anymore, I'm grenading it back to you, as soon as I unfold it and read it and cry one more time. Because me too, and fuck you. Even now.
And wow, don't get me started about the section where she describes the endlessness of a school day. Because, even though it's been almost twenty years since I experienced one, those three pages BROUGHT IT ALL RIGHT BACK. Beautifully done.
The friendships. I loved that it was so clear that Al was in love with Min from his very first appearance, but that their romantic arc was only touched on, because as much as I wanted more Al—he was wonderfully well-rounded, in that as much as it was clear that he'd be a better match for Min than Ed, he had plenty of flaws, too—this was Min and Ed's story. And the dynamics between Min and Ed's friends, those between Ed and Min's friends, those between Min and Ed's ex-girlfriends, between Min and Ed's sister, between Ed and Al, within Min's group of friends and within Ed's group of friends... all so fabulously done.
The characters. As I said, Al was wonderfully three-dimensional. And so was everyone else. Ed wasn't just a stereotypical Jerk Jock. That was certainly one of his faces. But he was also good at math, had a close relationship with his sister, was capable of being thoughtful, and, at times, hugely charming. Min is just as flawed as anyone else: some of those flaws are acknowledged by her, and some of them of them are just apparent from her chronicle. She and Ed play off of each other really well, and it's clear from the start why they are attracted to one another. (Beyond physically, I mean.)
The design. THE THICK, GLOSSY PAPER. THE COLOR ILLUSTRATIONS. THE HEFT OF IT. I swoon.
I just loved it. So much so that I read it, like, a month ago, and I'm still having a hard time letting it migrate out of my Currently Reading pile and onto my shelf.
Book source: ILLed through my library.