Author: Kim Culberston
Series: Stand Alone
Published: Available now from Sourcebooks Fire
Source: Publisher sent for review
Description: 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 Give This ...
I wonder sometimes if your enjoyment of contemporary fiction depends on how much you identify with the main character. Because I really liked this book, but I also really identified with Jessa. I may be an adult reading teen books, but I remember that first broken heart.
Jessa reacts just the way I thought she would. She's devastated, but she's not about to let it ruin her trip to Italy. But, I don't think she was counting on how hard it would be to see Sean everyday, let alone see him with another girl (another aspect I identified with). She's trying so hard to keep it together, but at the same time you can tell she's also holding on. Enter in Carissa, who's got a mission to help her get over Sean.
I enjoyed this part of the story. It was helping Jessa react according to her feelings instead of bottling it all up inside. She's allowed to be mad and say how she feels. But after awhile, I felt like the instructions became more about Carissa than about Jessa. Which was another aspect of the story that really hit home for me.
I also enjoyed the interactions between the two school groups touring Italy together. They were so different that it made for some funny moments. I did find the teacher/student relationship a little odd. But, then I don't know much about drama departments and how they function. I also didn't feel the romances in the book. They seemed more like summer flings, but the story was trying to make them seem bigger.
Overall, I enjoyed it for the memories it brought me and reminded me how far I've come since that person. It was just a feel good story that shows teens that love isn't always permanent. And if it's not, that just means there's someone else out there!