Since time immemorial, authors have attempted to craft in prose and song the story of "My First Serious Relationship Ended Badly and That Was the Worst Thing to Ever Happen to Anybody Ever in the Entire History of the Universe." But Daniel Handler, the Artist Sometimes Known as Lemony Snicket, has taken the self-absorption of first love and turned it into a funny and heartbreaking little young adult novel called Why We Broke Up, a tale about ... well, why two teenagers broke up.
Narrated by Min, a classic cinema-loving girl delivering a box of relationship mementos to the more popular, recently dumped Ed, the tale gets into the psychology of a young relationship in ways that these stories rarely do. The result is relatable and often quite funny, but it may induce that tight, heavy feeling in your chest you might remember from that time your first-ever requited crush called to tell you she was going back to her manic-depressive ex right before you were going to a family wedding, and you spent the next month alienating everyone you knew with your constant sighing and then repeatedly breaking down in tears at a screening of Ratatouille. You know, hypothetically.
Handler will appear at 7 p.m. with Maira Kalman, who did the illustrations of the various Min-returned items that appear throughout the book. It's a signing-line event, with your purchase of Why We Broke Up serving as the ticket. It's worth going to just to listen to Handler banter with people in line, if previous Quail Ridge appearances are any indication. Visit indyweek.com for my interview with Handler, which I conducted a few hours after receiving and reading the book, which is sort of like getting to talk to Walt Disney right after seeing Bambi or Old Yeller. —Zack Smith