This messed me up a little bit
I was prepared to really like this book. No, I was prepared to really LOVE this book. The pairing of Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) and Maira Kalman in a YA break-up book? Amazing! The concept of the book - genius! High school junior Min Green writes a letter to her ex-boyfriend Ed Slaterton explaining how the remnants in their "relationship box" show why they broke up. The items in the box are illustrated by Maira Kalman and begin each chapter. There are many items, many awesome illustrations and many little stories created by the wickedly quirky brain of Daniel Handler. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE. Perfect, perfect, perfect, perfect book.
I'll read just about anything in letter or diary format, so Min's run-on sentences and funny grammar didn't deter me one bit. I rather enjoyed that. And Handler's insight into teen relationships, romantic and friendly, is so exactly right that it took me back to when I was sixteen and experienced my first real break-up. This messed me up quite a bit back then and revisiting it messed me up a little bit, now. So, that's great writing.
The problem is I found Min Green annoying. And I found her annoying from page one, beginning with her use of the word "whatnot." And I just found her more annoying as the book progressed. On paper, her character is very appealing to me. She is obsessed with classic cinema and drinking coffee. I can totally get behind this. She is regularly referred to as being different, not arty exactly, but different. Smart, honest, open. Love the idea of this person. She is like every Molly Ringwald character rolled into one new, cool, Jewish girl. Except that she didn't really seem like a girl to me. She seemed more like the new, cool, Jewish guy sidekick. And this bothered me.
So although in theory this is my perfect book, it really wasn't. And that bums me out a lot. The rest of the world is really hot for this book. The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), recently named it a Michael L. Printz Honor Book. The Printz Award is an award for a book that exemplifies literary excellence in young adult literature.
I just didn't love it. And I've now annoyingly found myself using the word "whatnot."