Review of The Breakup Bible, by Melissa Kantor

The Breakup Bible
by Melissa Kantor

Hyperion Paperbacks, New York, 2007. 265 pages.

High school Junior Jennifer Lewis’s almost-too-good-to-be-true boyfriend suddenly decided to “just be friends.” She is not handling it well.

When her well-meaning grandma gives her a book of advice called The Breakup Bible, Jennifer is ready to throw it in the trash. She continues on, obsessed with Max, analyzing his every word to her, wondering if he’s thinking about getting back together.

Then she finds out the identity of the real reason he broke up with her, and her devastation is complete.

This time, Nana comes over and reads the book aloud:

“‘”So he’s with someone else,”‘ she read. ‘”Yeah, it hurts. Yeah, you miss him. But you know what? You’re not going to miss him for long. Because if you follow my simple steps, you can go from heartache to happiness before you can say, I’m over you!“‘

“Nana was looking up at me, a triumphant expression on her face. ‘See?’ she said. ‘You’re not the only one.’

“‘Nana, you don’t understand,’ I said. ‘That book –‘ I pointed at it. ‘Books like that don’t help.’ Had Nana not observed the obese hordes with their terrible hair and bad jeans crowding the self-help aisles at Barnes & Noble, reading books like Who Moved My Destiny? and You’re Not Weird, You’re Special!

“‘Just how do you know that, Miss Smartypants?’ She pointed at me. ‘You won’t even give it a chance.’ Then her features softened, and she smiled. ‘Give it a chance, darling. For me, for Nana.'”

Jennifer does give it a chance, for her grandma’s sake. It doesn’t, perhaps, go quite like the book’s author intended, but Jennifer does, little by little, make progress in getting over Max.

I’m a little embarrassed by how comforted I was by reading about a teenager getting over a breakup and how oddly similar the principles of recovery are for someone getting over a midlife divorce.

In both cases, it’s helpful to remind yourself that there are some good things about not having him in your life, and to focus on interests you can get excited about for YOU.

It’s also highly therapeutic to read about someone else handling it badly! It’s easy to see in Jennifer’s case where her faithful love is misplaced, but anyone who’s ever been there will feel plenty of compassion. And I never noticed before just how funny a breakup can be.

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Review of The Little Lady Agency, by Hester Browne

The Little Lady Agency
by Hester Browne

Reviewed August 18, 2007.
Viking, New York, 2006. 378 pages.

About a week after I finished The Cinderella Pact, by Sarah Strohmeyer, I found myself yearning for another dose of feel-good, light-hearted chick lit. The Little Lady Agency was the perfect choice.

Like The Cinderella Pact, The Little Lady Agency involves a woman with a secret identity. In this case, Melissa Romney-Jones runs The Little Lady Agency to help those men who don’t have their own “little lady” to do things like pick out gifts, plan a party, or play a jealous ex-girlfriend to make breaking up simpler.

Melissa didn’t originally plan on this career choice, but after she completely organizes the estate agency where she works, the agency is bought by an American firm, and they have to “let her go.” She refuses to ask for money from her rich MP father, since he’s still hounding her for the money he loaned to her to invest in a deadbeat boyfriend’s business—before he ran off.

In the interests of discretion, Melissa buys a blonde wig and runs her agency as Honey Blennerheskitt. Although Melissa herself is extremely capable, she finds that Honey is outspoken and charming and freely stands up for herself. Honey knows she is attractive and dresses to please. Honey wouldn’t let her family take advantage of her skills by planning her sister’s wedding for no compensation, as Melissa does.

Melissa’s favorite client ends up being Jonathan Riley, the new American manager of Melissa’s former office. He was recently divorced and wants Honey to pose as his girlfriend so that people will stop trying to set him up and stop asking him how he’s holding up. He seems to like Honey, but he doesn’t even know the real Melissa. And is it possible to let a relationship that begins as business change into something else?

This book is lots of fun, heart-warming, and made me smile. The characters have depth and you can’t help but like them (or like to hate them, such as Melissa’s father). Definitely a cheering book.