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INSTRUCTIONS FOR A BROKEN HEART by Kim Culbertson

INSTRUCTIONS FOR A BROKEN HEART

By Kim Culbertson

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: May 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4022-4302-8
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Overachieving Jessa looks forward to her drama class’ trip to Italy until she finds her boyfriend wrapped around a new squeeze in the costume barn. Alas, all of them will be on the trip. Jessa decides to go anyway, armed with 20 envelopes from her best friend. The envelopes contain instructions for activities intended to repair Jessa’s confidence and, perhaps, wreak revenge on the offending ex-boyfriend. However, as time passes and the instructions do nothing but cause more difficulty, Jessa begins to take her own road to recovery, finally focusing more on her own faults than on her boyfriend’s. Culbertson balances the story between teen angst and a nice Italian travelogue, as Jessa begins to find her own way out of her despair. Her characters stand out as individuals, although she saves time by fitting some peripheral characters neatly into stereotypes. The tour director with her frog-on-a-stick signpost adds some local color. The author has a flair for evocative descriptions, with phrases like “the world’s lovely sherbet colors, its gauzy, shifting clouds like wraiths” helping readers to see Italy. As Jessa reads A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, readers may be enticed to try it too. The major strength here is in the literary quality of the writing, although teens may be more interested in the characters’ relationships. (Fiction. YA)