by Daniel Handler/Art by Maria Kalman
First sentence: “Dear Ed, In a sec you’ll hear a thunk.”
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I picked it up because I liked the premise: an artsy 16-year-old girl, Min, giving all the stuff she’s collected over her brief (but passionate) romance with a jock named Ed. (Huh. Seriously?) It’s very Emma in it’s premise: the way to get over a guy is to get rid of all the collected junk. And along the way, tell exactly what he did mean to you, and why they broke up. (Spoiler: he was two-timing her. Sorry.)
I liked the idea of combining art with the story — Kalman drew pictures of all the items in the box — and thought that perhaps it would be an interesting and unique story.
What it was: depressing. Really, really depressing. It wasn’t even poignant, or thoughtful. Mostly it was a 16-year-old girl ranting, musing, crying, and venting about this boy she thought she loved, the boy she gave her virginity up to, and the boy who really, really, really let her down. Depressing.
Now, I suppose, if you had given this to me sometime when I was 16 to 18-years-old, I might have identified with Min, I might have loved the idea of getting rid of the crap (and writing a long, long letter to that boy). But now? Not so much. It was just pretentious. And stupid. And I’m sure she felt honestly, but there was just too much to wade through (354 pages worth) for me to even remotely care. I suppose if Min had a personality other than depressed and artsy, and Ed existed as more than the object of her anger, than I might have cared about the characters enough to get involved in the sordid story. But I didn’t. So, honestly? I skimmed half, read the end, and bailed.
Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t.