Here’s my tease: I was excited about how much this book is not like the Lemony Snicket books. It’s totally different, it’s totally wonderful, and all I can say is Handler is a darn fine writer.
This is the story of Min and Ed. This is the story of why Min and Ed broke up. This is Min’s story, told in a letter, one long, glorious, honest, letter to Ed about how they got together, and fell in love, despite (or, maybe, because of) being so different.
To understand Min, the first thing you have to know — well, the second, after knowing she has written a book-length letter to Ed — is that she took the box (the box with all the things from when they were together, bottle caps and posters) and put it on Ed’s doorstep along with the letter. So she’s the type to keep those things; and the type to return them; and the type to explain, in a letter, what they meant to her.
My final tease is that even though it is Min’s story, we also see Ed clearly, the good and bad, just as we see the good and bad in Min even though she is the narrator.
Closer to the publication date I’ll do a longer, more detailed review!
Edited to add:A question of design has been asked by Brian Kenney: “what did you think of the art work?” First, let me just say that this is a beautifully designed book. The paper is a high quality gloss, like you’d see and feel in a picture book. It makes the book heavier than a typical book. The cover and back cover give you a feel for Kalman’s style (also present in Handler and Kalman’s prior collaboration, 13 Words). The final version of the book will have full color artwork at the start of each chapter, illustrating the item that Min is returning. The ARC does not have that full color artwork; it has some black and white art, and some placeholders (i.e., “Full-color art to come: toy truck“). With my advance review copy, I got a packet of postcards which had some of the full color artwork that will appear in the final book. It’s not just the color that has been added, it’s also details. For example, the box that holds the items returned to Ed is a box that says “fragile” on it in the book. The box on the postcard has “you either have the feeling or you don’t” written on the upper left corner. However, the next illustration in the book does have that additional wording.
So, that’s the background. The advance reading copy does not give the full visual experience that the book will have. On a personal level, I liked the art; I liked that it made the experience of reading Min’s letter that much more real, by being able to see what it is she’s returning to Ed. I liked the full, rich color of the illustrations.