Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Review: Instructions for a Broken Heart by Kim Culbertson

Title: Instructions for a Broken Heart
Author: Kim Culbertson
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pages: 304
Release date: May 1st 2011
Genre: Contemporary YA; romance
Source: Bought from The Book Depository
Bookish links: Amazon ; Goodreads
Goodreads 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.

First sentence:
The costume barn isn't much to look at.

 My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This book really reminded me of a Sarah Dessen novel. Not every aspect of Instructions for a Broken Heart is as great as Sarah Dessen's book, but it definitely comes close.

I love the whole idea for this novel. The title is cute, and the idea of sending Jessa on an emotional journey with the help of these envelopes is great.

My favorite part of this novel are probably the characters. Jessa is so easy to relate to, from the beginning on. I don't even think the description does this book justice - for me, the main part isn't the romance, it's the character development - a sweet coming-of-age story. While Jessa's heartbreak could have been elaborated on more in the beginning, it's easy to understand what she's going through, and you can't help but feel for her.

Even more than the main character, though, I enjoyed the secondary characters. All of them are fully-developed and three-dimensional, all having some kind of quirk that makes them unique. This is where Instructions for a Broken Heart really reminded me of Sarah Dessen's books. Reading about these characters is just so much fun. I could picture all of them vividly, even the really unimportant ones - Tyler, Dylan Thomas, Sean, Natalie, everyone else in their drama group and those in the other group. Even Carissa, whom the reader never actually meets and just finds out about through the letters.

The writing is rich and beautiful, funny and touching at the same time. It's not flawless, but the style is insightul and sweet.

I've read other reviewers say their favorite part of this novel is the setting and reading about Italy. To be honest, I didn't enjoy that aspect all that much. Some descriptions of the sights are interesting, but a lot of them seemed too long, in my opinion, and that aspect bored me a little.

One storyline I didn't get is the one with Mr. Campbell. I didn't really get the point of the interaction between Jessa and him, and that part kind of creeped me out. I think it was too easy to have both teachers who came with them be so nice and understanding - in my opinion, it would have added another dimension if there'd been one teacher like that, but if the other one had been more strict, etc. It didn't seem too realistic the way it is.

Despite these little problems I had with the novel, this is a great read - a sweet, fun, heartfelt coming-of-age story, definitely worth reading for any fan of Sarah Dessen (or any fan of contemporary YA and romance, for that matter). I'm going to need to check out Kim Culbertson's debut novel, Songs for a Teenage Nomad!


  1. Seems like a really great summer read. I haven't read all of her novels either, but the ones I have read, all seem to have the same flair, ease and fun.

  2. I've only heard good things about this. I need to get my hands on it! Great review :D

    Don't be a stranger; stop by my blog and say hi! I'm not quite sure if we're fellow followers, but I follow you!

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    Cory @ Anti-Drug Reads

  3. Great review! I'm hopping over from Pure Imagination. I've had this on my tbr list for a while and I think I should buy it now.

    Aimee @ Coffee Table Reviews

  4. Great review! I just recently discovered this novel and have wanted to read it ever since. The characters sound great and if you're comparing it to Sarah Dessen, it must be good ;) Thanks!

  5. I've had this one on my TBR list for awhile. It just sounds really fun!!

  6. Great review! This book sounds good!

  7. I want to read this one soooo bad! It sounds fantastic although I'm not so sure about the Sarah Dessen part, I didn't like What Happened to Goodbye so much although Dessen's others books were fantastic!

  8. I love coming-of-the-age stories!You introduced this book to me...and now I feel like I must read this book!Great review!

  9. This book seems like a really great read. It sounds interesting and funny. If it is anything like Sarah Dessen I think I would love it.


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