“Instructions for a Broken Heart”

Fly to Italy. No airfare required.

I truly enjoyed reading “Instructions for a Broken Heart because it unexpectedly brought me back to Italy.

As I was reading this book, it  transformed me into the unforgettable Italian cities that I visited on my trip almost 10 years ago. I got so lost in the story that I forgot that I was on a commute train to San Francisco.  I could almost see and hear the sights and sounds of Italy. I could see the breathtaking rolling hills  of the town of Assisi and feel the warm Umbrian sun as I was having my first taste of thick European chocolate; while I was sitting at a café with the medieval castles towering in the distance.

And once again, I saw the younger version of myself eating a gelato after a whole day of touring the Vatican in Rome.  It was such a delight to unexpectedly remember that trip as if it I just yesterday when I went.

“Instructions for a Broken Heart” started out in California when Jessa, the main character, found her boyfriend making out with another classmate just days before the school trip to Italy.  She still decided to go despite her heartbreak. Her best friend, who was unable to join the trip, gave Jessa 20 sealed envelopes that she had to open during the course of the trip. The envelopes contained instructions on how to forget her cheating boyfriend who was also part of the tour. The instructions were meant to convince Jessa of what a jerk  her ex had been.  Some of the instructions were insightful. Others were silly childish prank, and sometimes, I felt like they did not have anything to do with Jessa or her breakup at all.

Even though “Instructions For A Broken Heart” was so full of teenage angst that got to be too much at times, it was told in the voice of a very intuitive and intelligent over-achieving teenager who was into poetry, drama and James Joyce novel.

The book is a Young Adult book but  it was not overly cutesy or trite.  Of course there were many immature moments which were congruent developmentally with the ages of the characters. However, I give them props for being  very perceptive, wise and in touch with their own journey of self-exploration.  The book is well-written and a treat for both the young and young-at-heart.

This book got mixed reviews on GoodReads but in my humble opinion, those guys who did not understand Jessa’s heartaches and drama already forgot how at 17, every decision could be seen as catastrophic, that time was of the essence to find your mark in this world; that every feeling, whether happiness or sadness, was magnified a thousand times. It was a lifetime ago since I have felt how Jessa felt in the book and I was glad to be reminded without having to go through the mixed terror and excitement of being a teenager all over again.


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