The Break-Up Artist by Philip Siegel

The Breakup Artist

Book Review by Ashley Huang

Becca is a junior at Ashland high school who runs a secret business: She breaks up couples, for a hundred dollars via PayPal. She’s a nobody, a wallflower, among the halls, but her title is a hot topic distributed in hushed tones within the vast sea of Ashland gossip. One day, Becca receives a request from a strange man willing to pay a juicy three-hundred buck price to break up the most popular couple in school: Huxley and Steve. Problem is – not only is their relationship stronger than steel, but Huxley has a special place in Becca’s heart: The two used to be best friends, joined at the hip, until the day Steve swooped up Huxley and left Becca stranded at the bottom of the high school social food chain – all by herself.

After a school year of trudging through five-inch thick novels, The Break-Up Artist was wildly refreshing for me. The plot was very clearly structured, which I actually enjoyed, as it satisfied my long-unfulfilled need for literary instant-gratification. The beautifully articulated literacy devices implemented by Siegal brought a splash of color and music to the story, which was one of the biggest reasons why I loved this book. Sentence after sentence, I couldn’t help but grin – Siegal really has a way with wording!

However, the main reason why this book is so striking to me is that of the uncanny accuracy Siegal managed to hit with high school and adolescent life – all the idiosyncrasies of teen life, while tastefully keeping it realistic.

Exhibit A: Becca’s friend Val is obsessed with boys and the idea of a relationship, and she finds herself falling in love with every boy who even remotely acknowledges her existence. I had to take a picture of some parts of the story and send it to a few friends who reminded me of Val.

Exhibit B: Becca’s older sister Diane wastes her life away every day, moping around at home in her old stained college sweatshirt, throwing her degree away. Diane is forced to face multiple wake-up calls before realizing the inevitability of her life if she doesn’t do something now. I personally feel that this situation has stricken everyone at least once in their life. Perhaps not as drastic, but I found myself relating to Diane anyways.

Exhibit C: The most popular girl in school, Huxley, used to be shy and quiet, besties with Becca, until one day she coughs up the audacity to climb up the high school social hierarchy without her best friend. Despite the specificity of this, I had to swallow a few angry lumps in my throat at the thought of certain personal friends who reminded me of Huxley.

When I flipped the last page of the book closed, I felt reborn. The last time I had gone on an adventure as wild as The Break-Up Artist was in middle school when I still found time to devour other YA novels like Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. Despite probably being more fit for a slightly younger audience, The Break-Up Artist is a perfect refresher for anyone who has fallen asleep one too many times while ­­­reading a school-assigned book.

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