Monday, May 9, 2011

Instructions for a Broken Heart by Kim Culbertson

Monday, May 9, 2011

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 heart-wrenching, Instructions for a Broken Heart paints a magical Italy in which Jessa learns she must figure out life-and romance-for herself.

First love is always the hardest to deal with since there is nothing to compare it to. For Jessa finding her boyfriend Sean tangled together in the school’s costume barn with another girl days before her trip to Italy with the drama club (including the cheating duo) is only the beginning of Jessa’s struggle to deal with her heat break. Jessa gets a leg up from her best friend Cassia, who sends a care package in the form of the top twenty reasons Sean is a pathetic excuse of a boyfriend and instructions Jessa must follow throughout her trip. Not unlike Songs of a Teenage Nomad, Kim Culbertson’s lyrical writing, sense of humor and strong teen voice, provides Instruction for a Broken Heart with strong emotions that anyone who has ever dealt with a heart break can relate to.

One aspect of Culbertson’s writing that I thoroughly enjoy is her ability to create realistic characters that are easy to relate to. Jessa is definitely one interesting character. She is use to doing everything well, but she finds herself in new territory when her well ordered, albeit scripted life, calls for her to adlib a lot. Cassia knowing her best friend all too well, prods her to try new roles with her instructions, and as Jessa attempts to follow her friend’s instructions, she slowly makes some personal gains.

Other characters also give Instructions for a Broken Heart a freshness to the drama. Tyler, who is responsible for giving Jessa Cassia’s instructions was  a great addition as was Dylan Thomas who definitely had some possibilities for distraction from Jessa’s ex. I also completely enjoyed some of the cameo characters provided in the form of another school, who joined Jessa’s group for the duration of the trip and provided quite a lot of comic relief.

Add to a great cast of characters the beauty of Italy and Instructions for a Broken Heart became for me a truly fun adventure. I wish I had had a friend like Cassia and Tyler when I experienced my first heartbreak because Jessa’s growth from poor pitiable me to being able to see new and exciting possibilities was greatly aided by their knowledge of their friend.  Overall, Instructions for a Broken Heart is filled with great insights and fun adventures making it a  delicious read.

 Source: Received copy for review from publisher
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