Friday, February 28, 2014

[Review: Instructions fir a Broken Heart by Kim Culbertson]

"Instructions for a Broken Heart"
Author: Kim Culbertson
Series: None
Pages: 304
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance, Travel
Date Published: May 1st, 2011
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Format Read: Purchased paperback


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:

An Open Letter To Instructions for a Broken Heart,

You go book!  You're pretty much one of the funniest and sweetest breakup books I've ever read.  I think that the reason I liked you so much could be because of fairly current life events of my own?  That's always a possibility, but that being said you had most of my favorite things in your pages.  Legit girl/boy friendships that don't head into romantic territory, about 1,000 Broadway show references and Italy (aka foreign lands).  You really out did yourself and I'm not sure why more people don't know about you.  We've all been in your shoes, or one day we will be and I think you're pretty cool for being who you are.

-The White Unicorn

I think what pulled me right into this story was the writing itself.  Oh, and the previously mentioned Broadway musical references.  You can't go wrong with those, you just can't.  But anyway,  Culbertson really knows how to describe what is happening around Jessa.  Sure, her language heads toward the flowery side of things, but there is a lot of weight in all the pretty words and that doesn't happen all the time.  There is a undefined, magical quality to what you read in these pages.  It's guaranteed to get ugly, there are going to be tears shed, but it still seems almost like a real life fairytale.

Imagine what it would be like to find your boyfriend cheating on you and then you have to go on a 10 day trip with the new happy couple... in Italy.  That's what Jessa has to deal with.  To top everything off, her best friend isn't on the trip with her, but not to worry, we get to know Carissa through the 20 envelopes that she sends off with Jessa.  Jessa comes off as slightly whiny and lost, but you understand where she's at and you're wanting to give her high fives by the end of the book.  This girl is hilarious and I like how she's not painted as a Saint, even though it's easy to side with her.  She has a lot of growing up left to do and a large chunk of that ends up happening on the beautiful streets of various Italian cities.

The setting is rich.  You can feel Italy's heart in the story.  It's almost it's own character.  An entity that helps Jessa heal and keeps her and us as readers highly entertained as the novel progresses.  You get to see a lot of Italy in just 10 days.  I was impressed. 

So, because their school's acting program is fairly small, Jessa's school has to team up with another group of high school students.  It was a clever plot point to have two separate schools on the same tour.  It added lots of interesting characters and also gave us Dylan Thomas, who sounded pretty darn dreamy, if you're asking me.  It was great to see Jessa form an instant friendship with him as well as seeing her interacting with her best male friend Tyler.  I loved that Culbertson gave us such a genuine friendship between two teens like Jessa and Tyler.  It would have been so easy for them to be romantic leads together, but they just worked as friends and it was awesome to see in YA.  Of course that still leaves us with Dylan Thomas...

Instructions for a Broken Heart will remind you of what it feels to have your heart ripped out and what it means to put it back together again.  Sometimes the journey is messy, but in the end you'll end up being bigger and better than you were before.  Jessa reminds us of that more than anything else.

 4 Unicorns = Close to perfect!


The Bookish Manicurist said...

This sounds like such a good story, I love when an author includes music references and the setting sounds excellent, too!

Nicole said...

I REALLY like the sound of this-the whole broken heart, putting it back together, Italy, Broadway musical thing. I just added it to my TBR. Thanks for bringing this one to my attention!

Chrystal said...

I knew I should have grabbed this book today when I saw it. Great review and love the open letter idea.