Friday, December 9, 2011

Instructions for a Broken Heart by Kim Culbertson

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.

Instructions For a Broken heart was not the book I imagined it would be. Based on the blurb and the cover (and even the endorsement quote from Jennifer Echols) I was expecting a romantic coming-of-age book set against a gorgeous back-drop of Italy. It just sounded lovely, perhaps quirky (with the notes and the characters all being drama students) and also quite swoon-y.

However, it really failed to capture my attention. 

Jessa, our main character, was altogether too sulky and self-absorbed. I realise this was a character arc, but, gosh, it niggled at me and really didn't endear her to me. Also, Sean, the cheating boyfriend, was painted to be such a complete douche it made me wonder why she even was with him to start with, let alone be so shattered that their relationship had ended.

It is reminiscent of 13 Little Blue Envelopes only not as successful. 

The setting felt decidedly un-atmospheric. They had excursions to some places but I didn't feel transported at all (not even when they went to Pompeii (!!) ~ and me and Pompeii are likethis). The whole thing could have unfolded back in the states just as easily and I felt frustrated that one of the selling points of the book (the European setting) fell flat.

I had assumed, from the blurb, a new (hot) guy would come bounding onto the scene to help Jessa after her shattered heart. But he didn't turn up (!) and right at the last chapter when Jessa realises another guy was into her, it concludes with setting up their relationship. It seemed tacked on and could have ended without leaving her with another guy. Especially as there weren't really any sparks or romantic build-up between them throughout the book. It was so subtle it hardly counted as a plot point at all. And now that I think about it ~ WHY did the book have to end with the setting up of a romance? As if this provides the perfect resolution to all her problems (of her own making). 

The reality is ~ I do not think this book has appeal beyond teen readers (I nearly feel bad for this review ~ because, really, this is not a book meant for me. much too immature, despite the upper YA themes). Too much high school relationship melodrama for me. It will appeal to people who like slowly unfolding coming-of-age stories and Sarah Dessen* books (the ones that have no swoon). Ah, yeah, I was disappointed with this one. 

Note: I read this one with my book club. Which was the only reason I managed to persevere to the end. Everyone in my book club awarded it 2 stars (it was okay) with the exception of one member who gave it 1 star and had a bit of rant...

*although Dessen writes with much more flair, just trying to pair the pacing and coming-age-vibe of the book. 

Instructions For a Broken Heart came out early this year and is the authors sophomore novel. 

Instructions For  a Broken Heart @ goodreads

I have read Kim Culbertsons debut, Songs For a Teenage Nomad and like it much more, a solid three star contemporary read.


  1. Oh how disappointing! I had assumed it would be like you thought it would be :(

  2. Awww. Such a shame. I would have expected a swoon worthy romance too. And I don't get the reason why "insert douchebag boyfriend here" is such a popular theme.

  3. Mmmm I kind of was hoping this one was a little better, since it sounded like a cute story

    Such a shame

  4. Aww! Now that even YOU'RE dissing this book, I don't have any high hopes for this book. Sigh. Haven't heard many good things about this one, and I actually PAID money for it. Maybe I should peruse my library more, though my local one doesn't have much YA.

    Was there ANYTHING positive? Anything I can still hold onto? :S

  5. Dang, I don't think I've ever heard you do a review that was so negative. haha, but I value your opinion dearly, sweets. I had this on my TBR list, but I think it'll have to go. I really love that cover though. Too bad. :(


Thanks for the commenty love :)