It sounds daft, but if there’s one thing I miss about books from my childhood it’s the illustrations. I’m like a magpie when it comes to bright, vibrant colours and pictures and can get stuck for a good ten minutes just looking at one image I really admire. Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman had been on my wish list for a very long time after a recommendation from Carrie Fletcher, but when it arrived and I discovered that it was illustrated? I cursed myself for not having bought it earlier!
The story of Why We Broke Up is pretty straightforward – a teenage boy and girl get together despite their differences and have a relationship that’s pretty much doomed from the start. It’s not the narrative as such that makes the book endearing but the way it’s written and the function of the illustrations in the book.
The images work like chapter headings and each chapter is the girl, Min, describing the story behind the picture and why it has wound up in the box of the boy, Ed’s, stuff that she’s giving back. It’s like a systematic way of going through memories and in a way reminds you to value little things like pinhole cameras and potractors and the memories they evoke.
It’s a quick and simple read that doesn’t demand too much attention but is a lot of fun. Above all other things, Daniel Handler is actually the real name of Lemony Snicket, who’s Series of Unfortunate Events I’m sure we all read as children! The apathetic, deadpan style of writing definitely comes through and it’s an interesting way of revisiting an old favourite.
I’d massively recommend this book – it’s a quick way to get a bit of variation into your reading… even when you have got loads of uni work to be getting on with!