Instructions for a Broken Heart – Kim Culbertson
Genre: YA; Romance; Realistic Fiction
Summary: Jessa Gardner’s life is going pretty well…until she finds out her boyfriend is cheating on her three days before a class trip to Italy. Poor Jessa is heartbroken, but bravely decides to go on the trip anyway, even though her now ex-boyfriend, Sean, will also be there. Jessa’s best friend, Carrissa, isn’t going, but she sends Jessa overseas with handwritten notes to help her get over her heartache. Will Jessa be able to move on once and for all?
Review: I quite enjoyed Culbertson’s other book, Diary of a Teenage Nomad, so I was pretty excited to read this one. Unfortunately, even though I read through the book quickly, I didn’t enjoy Instructions for a Broken Heart all that much.
My primary problem with this book was with the characters. I didn’t like any of them, especially Jessa, so even though I was supposed to feel sorry for her, I just didn’t care what happened to her. Honestly, I found her whiny and annoying, and I couldn’t believe she let her situation ruin a perfectly awesome, once in a lifetime trip to Italy. I found a lot of her behavior to be extremely immature, and because of that, I could not sympathize with her at all.
Even though Carrissa was only presented to the reader through the notes she wrote Jessa, I really didn’t like her either. Since Jessa and Carrissa were supposed to be best friends, I was absolutely shocked about some of the things Carrissa wanted Jessa to do. Additionally, I couldn’t believe that both Carrissa and Tyler, Jessa’s other best friend, kept such an important secret from Jessa. I won’t reveal it here because that would be spoilerific, but the fact that they kept something like that hidden from her showed that the friendship couldn’t have been as meaningful as Jessa thought it was.
My other problem was the plot. I liked that the book took place in Italy, but this effort reminded me very much of Maureen Johnson’s 13 Little Blue Envelopes, and I think Johnson did a much better job with the letter writing/risk taking in a foreign country theme. Perhaps my love for 13 Little Blue Envelopes explains why I had such a negative reaction to this book. There is a possibility that I would’ve liked Instructions for a Broken Heart better if I had read it first, but alas, I can’t go back in time. I just wasn’t really drawn into this plot at all, and as I touched on earlier, I found Jessa’s antics really immature.
If you like books about break-ups, heartaches, and scheming in a foreign country, you may enjoy Instructions for a Broken Heart.
Read-alikes: 13 Little Blue Envelopes – Maureen Johnson, Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares – Rachel Cohn and David Levithan