Although it probably looks like I've been reading only YA for the past month or so, that isn't really the case. I've peppered my reading with the Dresden Files (Jim Butcher -- amazing writer) and a few grown-up books here and there (including an ill-fated turn in Rowling's new book -- A Casual Vacancy) -- including this one, Why We Broke Up.
I was surprised and delighted to find that Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) had paired up with an illustrator to tell the tale of a break-up.
I know that sounds disheartening. A story full of young love, woe, and several objects relating to the relationship -- a book of matches, beer bottle caps, rose petals, etc. All the trappings of a bad romance.
But the book is surprisingly delicate, sensitive, and hopeful.
I loved it.
It spoke to me in a way I've never been spoken to before except in the occasional, and quite rare, beautiful indie movie.
It spoke to me about my own bad romance, painful breakup, and the happiness of finding love again.
It spoke to me about the fragility of relationships and the care you must take in keeping them, no matter if they're friendships or romantic entanglements.
It reminded me of a past I'd tried to push down and forget instead of processing.
It helped me heal.
It's a beautiful portrayal of life at the age where everything seems magical up until that moment when everything goes dark and you reach adulthood.
There are gorgeously written descriptions, spare bits of dialogue, and an overwhelming feeling of "I remember this..." enclosed in these pages.
And although there are, of course, a few things that might offend (although not in detail), the overall message is one of hope, and I'm deeply grateful it chose to end in such a way instead of taking the overused (and abused) typically indie ending of "No one is happy, and that's life."
Instead, this brilliant and illuminating story ends with an affirmation -- that you will love again, that love will find you, when you least expect it.
This is going on my Christmas list.
I can't wait to read it again.