In Instructions for A Broken Heart by Kim Culbertson, Jessa has just walked in on her boyfriend of two years tangled up with somebody else. She now has to go to Italy with him and “The Boob Job” on a Drama Club trip. On the plane, her best friend, Tyler, gives her envelopes from her other friend Carissa and in each envelope is a reason Sean is not worth her time and an instruction on how to get over him. She goes on the journey, with the envelopes, to become whole again.
I’m going to say it as straight as I can. I didn’t like the book. And since I didn’t like the book, I’m going to give spoilers, so you don’t have to waste your time reading it, so:
Now, if you don’t enjoy getting spoilers even if I don’t like the book, just let me know in the comment section. If there are enough people to make it worth it, I won’t do this again. Today, I will. It’s going to be my reaction to the different parts of the book, but it will still give away most of it.
I probably would have loved this book at the age of 15 and that is the age that it’s written for. I used to love the French Kiss series by Sarah Manning at 15 and now I find the main character to be whiny and incapable of solving a problem. So, if you’re fifteen, you might enjoy it. If you read Young Adult books and are in college or late high school, you might not.
My problem with the book was in the character and some of the plot points. Jessa had some sort of depth to her. She felt everything strongly and I could relate to that. I over-think things just as much. What I didn’t like about her was how much everybody else knew about their relationship. The whole drama club and the group that had joined them knew that she caught Sean kissing Natalie and now she was upset. They noticed that Sean was now with another girl (which is understandable) and knew that Jessa couldn’t handle it (which is not). She publicly announces everything. They all know about the letters Carissa left her and all know about the feelings she has for Sean. It became one of those “stop telling everybody about your life, nobody cares!” (kind of like blogging!). It became a little unbelievable.
Now, to the plot points. The main point is Jessa going through Carissa’s letters and dealing with letting Sean go. She goes ahead and kisses her teacher. Wait…what?! She kisses her teacher?! She then thinks the teacher may have returned the kiss?! THERE HAS TO BE A BIG ISSUE NOW!
She apologizes and tells the other teacher on the trip about it who says that he told her about it, so it’s fine. They go back to hanging out alone and bonding over the book.
Okay, I could see that this part is supposed to show how messed up Jessa really is, but it’s not something that can be pushed under the carpet that easily, especially considering Jessa told other students about it. I think that Culbertson could have ripped that part out. It was too cringe-worthy and didn’t keep the plot moving forward enough.
The two other side plots were also awkward. The first not being necessary at all. Jessa’s group has to merge with another group and the teacher there they refer to as Cruella. She’s downright rude and completely inappropriate. To a student who has some type of Spanish heritage, she asks “comprende” after asking for the butter. She tells two boys that their acting is crap and also says that the famous paintings their looking at depicts the people as fat and they’re all ugly. I’ve had awful teachers before, but this is just inappropriate. She would have been fired at the school if she talked like this and she definitely should have been kicked out.
At one point, Jessa sees her crying after a student teases her and then, she sees her upset in a hallway for some reason and Jessa tells her what she thinks of her. You would assume that Cruella would have some type of moment with Jessa or at least do something, but instead she leaves near the end of the trip and that’s it.
Yes, that’s it. Nothing happens. She’s there one moment, throwing stuff and screaming at her husband and leaves because the trip isn’t what she wanted. Jessa has no reflection on her turning out to be like that or anything even as simple as that. She’s there and then she’s gone. Nothing else said. I have no clue what the point of that was, but if you do, please enlighten me.
The next point had to do with Giacomo, an attractive boy who just appeared. Come to find out, after talking to Jessa over dinner, he’s the tour guide’s son. He got kicked out of school because of “narrow minds”. When Jessa talks to his mother, she finds out he left school for some reason. There’s some type of issue between the two, obviously. Jessa walks in on them fighting and Giacomo shatters the frog the tour guide carries around with her for some reason. When Jessa is cleaning up the mess, she finds a key that she gives to Giacomo later on. The key goes to a lock box that holds his passport. He wanted the passport to meet his BOYFRIEND in San Francisco. All of this led me to ask some questions
1. Is this what his mother was upset about?
2. Why did she carry around a key in a plastic frog?
3. Why does Giacomo’s boyfriend live in San Francisco?
4. What was the point of having this in the story?
I just felt that this part of the story had no point to it and could have been pulled out. It did nothing to the plot, but instead was added there. The most it did was show that the guy Jessa was kind of hitting on was gay, but she’s not upset about this at all. She’s like “okay! Good luck!” and I don’t think there was a point.
Dylan Thomas is the next character. He’s very obviously the love interest though it becomes uncertain later on in the book. He hangs out with Jessa and asks about the letters. Also, he listens to her complain about Sean. Later on, he disappears for a bit with another girl who has a boyfriend. It becomes really weird. It seems that Culbertson doesn’t want the reader to guess who she ends up with, but instead it left me feeling that Dylan was a jerk for hanging out with her and then moving onto another girl while Jessa hardly thought about it. Of course, it’s revealed that he does like her and wants to keep in touch at the very end. I felt that he became a rebound since Jessa didn’t have much thought about him throughout the story.
She does get over Sean and shows this by reading a poem about him to THE ENTIRE CLASS, but whatever. People work on their issues the way they want.
So, everything goes as what you would expect besides the things you wouldn’t expect, but kind of sit awkwardly. Even though I spoiled the plot for you, you can always give it a read and see how you feel. Enjoying the book is not a bad thing at all and I will not think less of you. Also, would you like me to start giving reviews each day of whatever chapters I’ve read that day? Sure, it’d be like stalking how much I read a day, but it could be more in depth with actual quotes and such. Up to you! Leave a comment.