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Brief Chronicle of Another Stupid Heartbreak

Book review by
Mary Cosola, Common Sense Media
Brief Chronicle of Another Stupid Heartbreak Book Poster Image
Uneven take on summer breakups and teen love.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Information on neighborhoods and sights in New York City. Lots of philosophical discussion of love and relationships.

Positive Messages

Open up to friends and family about problems. It's a sign of maturity to own up to your mistakes. Confronting your issues will help you grow as a person. One main character is Filipino American and another is Latinx.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Lu is surrounded by smart, kind, ethical people. Pete manages to be both brutally honest and emotionally supportive. Cal and Iris are mature, thoughtful kids. Lu's mom and Starla are caring adults who want to help Lu. And though Lu is a seriously flawed character, she matures and learns a lot about being a good friend and a responsible person.

Violence

A girl falls down and gets a minor injury while drunk.

Sex

Book is centered on love, relationships, intimacy, and connection. Main character is obsessed with love and relationships. Attractiveness is discussed often. Joking references to "boning" and masturbation. Characters kiss, caress, and hold hands. Some making out and hanging out in bed together. Character references having had sex, but there are no sex scenes.

Language

Frequent strong language, including "s--t," "f--k," "hell," "God," "ass," "damn," "bulls--t," "d--k," "prick," " damn," "butt," "bitch," "a--hole," "bastard," "crap," "dammit," and "goddamn."

Consumerism

Most brands and media mentioned for scene setting, including Coke, Facebook, Tumblr, Netflix, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Whole Foods, Starbucks, and Neosporin.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A few scenes of underage kids having fun while drinking and getting drunk. One character uses a fake ID to get herself and a friend into a bar, where they get tipsy. Characters get drunk at a fraternity party and at another party where they play drinking games. A parent has one glass of wine.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Brief Chronicle of Another Stupid Heartbreak by Adi Alsaid (Let's Get Lost, Never Always Sometimes) is about a teen girl, Lu, reeling after a post-graduation break up and trying to figure out whether teen love is "real" love. The breakup has led to a case of writer's block, which has serious consequences because her scholarship to NYU is tied to her regularly writing a relationship column for a magazine. She procrastinates all summer, while hanging out with two new friends she considers to be the perfect teen couple. The book depicts 18-year-old high school graduates wandering in New York City, thinking about their futures, going to parties, missing curfews, and talking about love and relationships. Love is a central theme of the book. Characters kiss, touch, and make out, but nothing too steamy is shown. There's lots of strong language, including "s--t," "f--k," and "a--hole." Some of the characters get drunk a few times, and it is portrayed as fun and funny. The story provides good discussion points around trust, love, and what it takes to make any kind of relationship -- love, family, friendship -- work.

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What's the story?

In BRIEF CHRONICLE OF ANOTHER STUPID HEARTBREAK, a teen girl flounders after a breakup and spends most of her summer avoiding a writing deadline and obsessing over the nature of love. Lu's boyfriend breaks up with her at the start of summer, crushing her notion of the two having a few wonderful, carefree months together and possibly a long distance relationship when they start at different colleges in the fall. As for college, she's received a scholarship to NYU that's tied to a writing gig she has with a hip online teen magazine. The column is about love and relationships, and the breakup spurs writer's block of epic proportions. She's at risk of losing her column and her scholarship if she doesn't get something -- anything -- written soon. She happens upon another teen couple on the verge of a summer breakup and decides she wants to write about them. But still, the words don't come. She's convinced that these new friends have the answers to love and relationships she's hungry to learn, but in spending so much time with them, she blows off her boss, her mom, and her best friend. Lu is emotionally stuck in so many ways and needs to figure out how to dig herself out of the mess she's created.

Is it any good?

This tale of teen summer breakups is equal parts frustrating and endearing. In Brief Chronicle of Another Stupid Heartbreak, author Adi Alsaid accurately captures the highs and lows of that unique summer between high school and college. Teens that age are technically adults, but have one foot in the world of independence and the other still accountable to parents. The characters' musings on love, and teen love in particular, are interesting and engaging. The intelligence and kindness of the secondary characters add a certain sweetness to the story. Lu is awkward and sarcastic, which is sometimes relatable, but throughout most of the book she is so self-absorbed, in denial, and clueless that she ends up not being a sympathetic main character.

 Writer's block and shirking aren't compelling story topics, and Alsaid doesn't do a great job of making them so. The story is told in first person with Lu as narrator, and her head's not a fun place to be, making a too long book feel endless when she's not moving forward with anything in her life. The repetitive thoughts and conversations become tiresome. There are sections of the book that are funny and charming, but the slow place and frustrating main character bog down the narrative.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the way teen relationships are depicted in Brief Chronicle of Another Stupid Heartbreak. Do you think the ways the different characters behave are realistic? How does this compare with other books and TV shows about teens in love and relationship breakups?

  • How much do you trust your family with details about your personal life? How much do you share or hold back? Why?

  • Do you ever have trouble completing a project or meeting a deadline? What do you think holds you up? How did you break through and get it done?

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