Author: Kim Culbertson
Published: May 1, 2011
Genre: YA, Contemporary
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 heartwrenching, Instructions for a Broken Heart paints a magical Italy in which Jessa learns she must figure out life-and romance-for herself.
Jessa is riding high before her class trip to Italy. She's got an amazing boyfriend, great friends and the opportunity of lifetime to explore a gorgeous historic city coming up. So, when Jessa finds her boyfriend in a less than appealing situation, she's crushed. It seems as though everything that could go wrong is doing so, and she's certain her trip is ruined. Jessa didn't know just how great her friends were until now though. Giving her an excuse and a reason to step outside of her comfort zone, Jessa has the chance to be someone new in Italy, and moreso, she has the chance to find herself again.
While contemporary was never my favourite thing before, truly I'm finding a wonderful and eclectic mix of books to satiate my contemporary appetite now. Instructions for a Broken Heart doesn't have the most original of premises - cheating guy, good best friend, chance to find oneself etc. - but author Kim Culbertson has delicately balanced a strong setting, a great cast of characters and a coming-of-age story that anyone can relate to. Laugh out loud funny, tender and sweet, Instructions for a Broken Heart is one of those books that makes me feel like the character might just be me or my best friend.
The strongest part of Instructions for a Broken Heart was the main character, Jessa, in my humble opinion. It is so easy to draw a character that becomes weak and spineless in her situation, but Jessa's personality was perfectly played. She hesitates, she's flawed and she has self-doubt, but it's not in the crippling "woe is me" sense of the word. Jessa wants to find happiness and she wants to have a great time in Italy. The way the list gives her a chance to step outside herself, introduce a cast of fantastic secondary characters and show us a world of adventure was a skill in and of itself, making me enjoy and relate to Instructions for a Broken Heart that much more.
All in all, Instructions for a Broken Heart was a sweet, heartfelt and extremely approachable book. It exceeded my expectations, which were already high. I give it a strong 4.5 out of 5, and I'd recommend it to fans of YA, especially those who enjoy contemporary fiction.
I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.