Literature / Why We Broke Up

Why We Broke Up is a 2011 novel by Daniel Handler (better known as Lemony Snicket), with art by Maira Kalman. It is told from the viewpoint of teenager Min Green, addressed to her recent ex-boyfriend, Ed Slaterton, a few weeks after their breakup. As Min explains in the opening pages, the novel itself is a letter to Ed, accompanying a box of possessions that she is returning to him, detailing why they broke up.

The Film of the Book is reportedly in the works, due for release in 2014, starring Hailee Steinfield as Min.

The books provide examples of:

  • All There in the Manual: In-universe, the novel itself functions as this. It details all of Ed and Min's relationship, and why it came to an end.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Annette, who takes the time to compliment Min when she's down and reassure her of how much Ed loves her while Ed is cheating on Min with her.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Min finds out that Ed is sleeping with Annette, promptly breaks up with him, and is shattered by the way things ended. However, she eventually decides to move on with her life by giving Ed a box of his possessions back, along with a letter telling him why they broke up, bringing the novel full circle, and it is implied that Ed and Annette don't work out, either.
  • Cool Big Sis: Joan.
  • Disappeared Dad: Min's father isn't around and her narration heavily implies her parents are divorced; the only mentions her dad gets is that he gave her the name "Minerva" and that her mother disses him every Halloween.
  • Epistolary Novel: The storyís framing device is Min writing a letter to Ed explaining to him why she broke up with him. Itís not entirely clear how much of the novel is part of her letter and how much is Min reminiscing, but certain comments she makes during her narration (like when she mentions near the end that her pen is running out of ink) imply that the entire novel is the letter.
  • Exact Words: How Ed justifies sleeping with Annette: when he talked with Min about exclusivity, he said that he didn't want to see other people, not that he wouldn't.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin
  • Fictional Document: Real Recipes From Tinseltown
  • Foregone Conclusion: Assuming you read the title, you know that Ed and Min are going to break up at the end.
  • Heroic B.S.O.D.: Min after dumping Ed is, well, extremely down in the dumps.
  • Irony: The reader will likely notice that even if Ed gets the letter, he very likely lacks the wherewithal to read itómeaning that Minís 300-page narration, while perhaps providing closure, was essentially a waste of time.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Al for Min.
  • Jerk Jock / Lovable Jock: Zigzagged in Ed. While he's certainly politically incorrect in some aspects and often fits the meathead-doof stereotype, he did seem to genuinely love Min at times, and she him. Until, of course, the reason for their breakup.
  • Jewish and Nerdy: Min, though very secular, is both Jewish and a bookish movie buff.
  • Just Friends: Min insists this is the case between her and Al, although Ed continually thinks thereís something more. It eventually turns out that Al actually does want something more.
  • Like an Old Married Couple: Min and Al.
  • Maybe Ever After: Al and Min.
  • Mistaken for Gay: A couple people think this about Al.
  • The Movie Buff: Min has a thing for older movies.
  • Must Have Caffeine: Downplayed, but Min mentions feeling extremely woozy every day she doesn't get her Federico's pick-me-up.
  • Oblivious to Love: Ohhhh, Min. She goes to Al's house one night and finds that he has pork chops and asparagus ready to broil in case she hadn't eaten yet, and somehow Al still has to spell out his feelings for her.
  • Opposites Attract: Ed and Min. It's commented on by most of the other characters in the novel, who can't see why they're together.
  • Psycho Ex-Girlfriend: Jillian isn't really psycho, but she's clearly not over Ed quite yet. She takes it out on Min. Subverted, because when Min dumps Ed it's she who comforts her first.
  • The Reveal: The reason Ed and Min broke up. Ed cheated on her with ex-girlfriend Annette.
  • Second-Person Narration: The novel is narrated by Min and addressed to Ed.
  • Title Drop: About every other chapter ends with some variation of "...and that's why we broke up."
  • Their First Time: Ed and Min end up getting a hotel room while Edís parents and sister are out of town. Although Min is nervous at first, since she was a virgin before Ed, and afterwards she briefly reflects on the fact that while sheís never done this before, Ed has.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Min's other friends, Lauren and Jordan, think she and Al have this despite Min's attempts to assuage them. They're right, at least on Al's end.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Ed, with Annette.