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Coming Soon:
~Review: The Killing Woods
~Review: The Waiting Sky
~Review: A Certain Slant of Light
~Review: Timepiece
~Review: Infinityglass

Friday, May 13, 2011

Review: Instructions for a Broken Heart

Instructions for a Broken Heart (ARC) by Kim Culbertson
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pub. Date: May 1st, 2011
Pages: 304
Age Level: 13+
Source: For review from publisher.

Synopsis via Goodreads
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.

Are you looking for a fun book to make you laugh? Then look no further because Instructions for a Broken Heart will do just the trick. Maybe you want something that's a bit deeper at times though, something with emotion and feeling? Well guess what, this book has that too.

From the second Jessa walked in on her boyfriend with his dirty little secret, I became completely connected to her. Not that I’ve been in that situation but, come on, don’t most girls fear, at least once, that they’ll be cheated on and have their heart broken if that hasn't happened already? Jessa turned out to be a most realistic and thoroughly developed protagonist. Her sense of humor often had me laughing and her strong emotions were so palpable. She did have her flaws though, which were occasionally brought to light by some of the other characters. I loved her just the same though, maybe even more so. Then there was Tyler, her hilarious best friend, and man did I adore him. He was so loyal to Jessa and always there for her when she really needed him. That and he seriously had me craving some gummy bears. Dylan Thomas was another male supporting character that I fell in love with. He was so charming, funny, and different in a way that I can’t quite explain. Sean, the ‘Slimy Jerk Bastard’, was admittedly a bit of a screw-up when it came to Jessa but I could tell a part of him, in his own confused way, still cared about her. Mr. Campbell, the drama teacher, and Ms. Jackson, the English teacher, were so completely awesome and I was glad to see some adults play such great roles in this book. There were quite a few other really distinct and well crafted supporting characters as well. Honestly, Instructions for a Broken Heart really did have an impeccable cast, including the plastic frog on the stick. What? Don’t look at me like that. You’ll see when you read it.

Instructions for a Broken Heart managed to be both something I expected and something I didn’t. I definitely got the fun, mostly light read I was looking for but there was some deeper emotion there too, which I really appreciated. Carissa’s envelopes always left me anxious to find out what the next reason and instruction would be. This story was very unpredictable in that sense because I never really knew what to expect. Things were also rarely what they seemed at first and I found myself surprised by that because I kind of did expect this book to be so effortless to figure out. Sometimes I like being wrong. The pieces of Italian history and culture weaved in were a welcome, and necessary, addition; it was evident that Culbertson had experienced Italy first hand.

Culbertson’s writing style is one that I immediately found myself drawn to. Her picturesque descriptions brought the Italian atmosphere to life and off of the pages, fully encompassing me with all it’s marvel and delighting my senses. I also found myself surprisingly happy with her choice of a third-person narrative, something I’m not usually fond of but thought fit this story perfectly. There were a couple of stray rough areas that I sometimes had to read over again just to make sure I hadn’t missed something but I’m sure these were probably smoothed out in the final copies and were only a very tiny, minor issue.

The way Instructions for a Broken Heart drew to a close was beautifully done. I found myself clearly able to see how far along the characters had come from the beginning and everything was pulled together nicely. There was also a surprise or two. One of which was a discovery about Giacomo, our Italian guy, and I admit, there was a time earlier on when I had briefly suspected it. However, I was still able to find it a great twist at the end.

All in all, Instructions for a Broken Heart is a rich, heart-felt, and humorous story with one of the most romantic backdrops possible, Italy. If you’ve ever had your heart broken, or just appreciate quality contemporary YA novels, than this book is for you. I look forward to reading more from Kim Culbertson in the future.

Characters: A
Writing: B+
Plot: B+
Ending: A-
Enjoyment/Likability: B
Recommendable: B+

Overall: B+

Cover: B+

Buy Instructions for a Broken Heart: Amazon / Kindle / Book Depository


Sammie Spencer said...

Wow - this sounds like a great read! I love books where the female has a male best friend that's super supportive. I um, also like Gummy Bears. ;-)

Candace said...

This is one of those covers I never forget. I love the orange and the way she's standing just makes her look free.
It sounds like such a great read, I'll definitely have to make sure I get my hands on it!

Unknown said...

I just read another review on this, maybe four days ago?
I love that it takes place somewhere really romantic and out of the states! Books like these usually talk a lot about landmarks, that are located there(:
Great review though:D

Nikki (Wicked Awesome Books) said...

I have Songs for a Teenage Nomad, but haven't gotten around to reading it yet. I've heard it was great, as is this one. I'm a huge contemporary lover, so I think I'll have to get around to reading both of Culbertson's books because they really sound like something I'd enjoy.

Having a fantastic large cast of characters, as well as adult characters that play a role, isn't all that common in YA and I'm happy to hear that it is done so well here. Great review!

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Hello all! My name is Briana, I'm 20, and I live in the beautiful state of Georgia. I love reading and photography.

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