My first review for “The Book Review Club” is The Breakup Bible by Melissa Kantor. For book reviews by other club members, see Barrie Summy’s blog.
When I realized I wanted to write a young adult novel I hadn’t really read any that I could say I loved. I kept trying, but none of them really appealed to me and I wondered if I really could write a young novel myself if I couldn’t even find one I enjoyed reading.
Anyway, that all changed the last time we were at Disneyland. There we were in line at the Holiday Haunted Mansion, and the teens behind us were cracking us up talking about if one friend with a big head married another friend with a big head – just imagine how big their kid’s head would be. LOL. That’s when I knew I had to write a young adult novel. If only I could find a young adult novel I really loved.
So, the next day we popped into Compass Books in Downtown Disney (other locations in the Bay Area) before heading back to the hotel room for an afternoon break. Naturally, I love small book stores and this store is a draw every time we go to Disneyland – about once a quarter – it’s well organized, with inviting atmosphere, and helpful clerks (with a small cafe attached serving coffee and yummies). And then I saw it – The Breakup Bible by Melissa Kantor. And I devoured it in two days. It was fabulous. This was the kind of young adult novel I could not only love, but maybe write. Hope, hope, hope.
So what did I like about The Breakup Bible? What was it I could relate to? It took me back to high school. The feelings all came alive again. I was there reliving it, even though it was a long time ago.
The main character was smart – a member of the school newspaper staff interested in a smart guy also on the newspaper staff. What could go wrong? Two smart kids working on the paper together? Being smart doesn’t make you immune from dealing with the same issues everybody deals with. Like what happens when the guy you thought was so cool and smart dumps you for the one girl he said he’d never be with? But you don’t know that because he keeps saying he wants to be friends and maybe you’d eventually get over him but he gives you mixed messages – like little body language cues that you interpret, naturally, as wanting to get back together?
You hope, hope, hope because you just can’t go on with a broken heart. And you can’t move on, beccause this guy still has your heart. But, then eventually you realize he’s just another dumb guy, but you just couldn’t see it before. That’s when you start to grow up just a bit and learn from that experience and maybe choose the right guy next time – and not just the guy who seems right. As the last paragraph in the book’s back blurb says:
She starts to see Max–and herself–in a whole new light. And Jennifer discovers there just might be life after heartbreak.
Unlike some young adult novels that try too hard to be young and hip, or the author is trying too hard to teach a lesson, you find yourself rooting for Jennifer. Because once you get to know Jennifer, you become Jennifer, and you start rooting for yourself.