Inspired by Alice in Wonderland
Dear ‘Why We Broke Up’,
It wasn’t that long ago that I thought I would be writing you a break-up letter. A terse, thanks-but-no-thanks, it’s-not-me-it’s-you-now-kindly-get-lost note. It makes me wonder why I buy books sometimes, whether it’s truthfully the book itself I want or the simple act of acquisition I crave. Is it the words I tell myself I need, or just the covetousness that accompanies a rush of cover-lust? There you were on the shelf, distinct and red and beautiful - a waxy-covered, solid weight in my gluttonous hands. I will have this book, I thought, and I took you home.
But the longer I left you on my shelf the more I resented your smug presence. So, I ignored you. Pushed you to the bottom of the stack, threw you over for other books time and time again. Occasionally, as I ran a searching finger down the column of spines I’d pause at yours. I’d feel guilty for owning a book I didn’t want to read, then assuage it by telling myself it was just that I wasn’t in the mood to read about intellectualized misery or the painful disintegration of a relationship.
Until one day, I was.
That’s not to say that I liked you from the first page, because I didn’t. I was willfully resistant to your efforts at charm. I didn’t like Min’s stream of consciousness narration. I didn’t like the way you interrupted the dialogue in awkward places with “is what she said” or “is what you said.” I didn’t like the contrived quirkiness of the characters and the quaint turns of phrase. I didn’t like your “witty” banter that sounded so pleased with itself. I didn’t like Min’s habit of constantly referencing films and directors and actors. Alright, I get it, okay, enough – Min is different, Min is cool, Min is the Manic Pixie Dream Girl that doesn’t really exist. I just didn’t like you.
Until suddenly, I did.
You crept up on me, somewhere in between the pages of softly-coloured illustrations and vignettes that form Min’s letter. Item by item, with each relic dropped into the box, I fell for you. As Min and Ed’s story telescoped down to its fragile and bitter heart, I was drawn in. I found Min in those dashed down anecdotes and I knew her. I knew this person who wanted so desperately to be something but thought herself nothing. And I saw in her story another hurt, another bad decision, another break-up that ended in a pile of photographs and mementos on fire in the backyard, in a moment of youthful drama and heartbroken pyromania. I saw the thing that was cherished and coveted and cost nights of crying to sleep, the thing that wasn’t worth it, that didn’t work, but hurt all the same. All the moments that were never quite right, but were still precious; all the reasons it was prolonged and not put down, put behind, put out of its misery like it should have been. The thing you think you want with everything you have, until its too late and you lose more than you have to give.
And damn you page 335, for twisting up my chest until I cried ugly tears and felt all over again what it is to get hurt like a kick in the solar plexus. To feel so diminished and bereft and empty of everything worthwhile. To know that deep down you were right but that doesn’t make it hurt any less, doesn’t take away that some of it was good, some of it was special.
‘Why We Broke Up’, I admit that I judged you before I really knew you. I thought you were pretentious and insincere and I was determined to hold everything I possibly could against you. But I’ve read you now and I can’t. I can’t not like you, you stupid book, because I think of you even though you stomped on my freaking heart and made me cry in public.
I can’t stop thinking about you.
|Reynje loves books and red lipstick, in that order. She occasionally writes book reviews in Goodreads and likes to be part of books' communities and to share her thoughts about good stories. At the moment, she has a couple of books that she wants to read pretty soon, such as News of the World and The Awakening. She is currently reading award-winner Bone Gap by Laura Ruby, so let's hope she writes a review that we can share with you here.|