Saturday, May 21, 2011

Instructions for a Broken Heart review

Description: Three days before her drama club's trip to Italy, Jessa Gardner discovers her boyfriend in the costume barn with another girl. Jessa is left with a care package from her best friend titled "Top Twenty Reasons He's a Slimy Jerk Bastard," instructing her to do one un-Jessa-like thing each day of the trip. At turns hilarious and heartwrenching, Instructions for a Broken Heart paints a magical Italy in which Jessa learns she must figure out life-and romance-for herself.

My thoughts: Initially, when I first read this book’s description, I immediately thought of Maureen Johnson’s 13 Little Blue Envelopes, and was concerned that it would be the same type of story. Thankfully, except for both books having a loving yet sometimes unreliable individual send letters to a person who needs them for one reason or another, Instructions for a Broken Heart stood on its own.

 This story was a rare example of how a book could be messy and still be good. And I don’t mean messy like the book was bad. The main character has to go through a lot, and because she didn’t know how to deal with her breakup, or how to handle her best friend’s letters, a lot of unexpected things happen. 

There were so many situations that could have resulted in vastly different outcomes, but none of them happened in a way I expected. At some points, things didn’t make sense, and people seemed cruel and insensitive. Then there were critical learning moments that seemed to connect the challenging moments in life with the easy and carefree ones. 

What I liked most about this book is that it portrayed the characters as having more than just one side to them. People can generally be good or bad, but it doesn’t mean that they aren’t more complicated than that. Good people can do bad things and vice versa. The situations in this book showed that life isn’t just black and white, which was hard to accept at first, because I never wanted to see Jessa as anything but an innocent victim, or her ex as anything but a jerk. But because of the author’s realistic writing, I was eventually able to see all the characters as real people who make mistakes. I’ve never heard of this author but I look forward to reading more books by her, especially if they’re in the contemporary genre.

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