Debbie's World of Books
My book reviews, book news & random rants

Instructions for a Broken Heart by Kim Culbertson

August 26th, 2011 by Debbie's World of Books

Source: Received for review

Publication date: May 1, 2011

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

I give this book 2.5 out of 5 stars

Summary from 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.

I hate when I read a book and feel really dense for not getting it.  I feel like I should have felt sympathetic towards Jessa and relate to her heart break after having her heart crushed by a slime ball boyfriend but I really couldn’t and found it hard to figure out why I should like her at all.  If you know why please let me know.  I know she’s a teenager and just caught her boyfriend rolling around in a tongue lock with another girl but from what we begin to see maybe she did bring it upon herself.  She gets so caught up in herself and what’s going on in her life that she’s oblivious to what’s going on around her even with those who are her supposed best friends.  Then she obsesses so much over the break up she can’t even enjoy herself the tiniest bit even though she is traveling to all these amazing destinations, seeing places I can only dream of and meeting wonderful people like Dylan Thomas, a funny, nice guy, from another school.  She even has the nerve at one point to accuse one of her best friends of being distant because he meets someone else on the trip and stops paying her attention 24/7.  Then there are all these little things she finds out about her relationship with her boyfriend and best friend that gives you the impression that she was pretty self-absorbed even before the break up.

The other part that wierded me out was her relationship with one of the chaperones Mr. Campbell.  Maybe it’s the way I read it but some of their interactions seemed totally inappropriate for a teacher/student relationship even if the teacher is young and cool.  It would not have been so bad if amidst all of her misery and confusion Jessa acts rashly and does something she knows is totally inappropriate but I got the impression that even though the teacher knows it’s wrong he wishes he could pursue it.

The only part that I found fun in reading this book was the wife of one of the chaperones from the school that joins Jessa’s school on the tour.  The comments that come out of her mouth are so unbelievable that you just have to laugh.  She’s the epitome of the ugly American tourist and you can’t help but feel sorry for everyone that has to travel with her.  Other than that this book was quite the let down for me.   There are several other things that bothered me but I don’t want to get into as it would start giving away bits and pieces of the story but they just did not flow well in my opinion and never came together in the end.

Posted in 2 Star Books, Books, Young Adult

3 Responses

  1. Pam (@iwriteinbooks)

    Oh boo, with a cover like that and a title like that I’d expect it to be totally brilliant. Sorry it fell short. :O/

  2. Debbie's World of Books

    I know right?! So bummed.

  3. Michelle

    I read this one and kinda fell in the middle. It was an interesting perspective on Jessa’s journey to realiziation of what the issues really were. But, like you, I found her behavior questionable some of the time. She was definitely self absorbed….which most teens are….but I think it was pushed to an extreme to show the “progression” she made by the end.

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