Instructions for a Broken Heart by Kim Culbertson (Book Review)

April 29, 2013 Book Review, Young Adult 8 ★★★★★

Instructions for a Broken Heart by Kim Culbertson (Book Review)Instructions for a Broken Heart by Kim Culbertson
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on May 1, 2011
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 304
Format: Paperback
Source: Christmas Present
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5 Stars
Top Twenty Reasons He’s A Slimy Jerk Bastard

"Jessa:
To help you get over your trainwreck of an EX, I’ve enclosed 20 envelopes. Each one has a reason why Sean is a jerk and not worth the dirt on your shoes. And each one has an instruction for you to do one un-Jessa-like thing a day. NO CHEATING!
Ciao! -- C"

When Jessa catches her boyfriend, Sean, making out with Natalie "The Boob Job" Stone three days before her drama club’s departure to Italy, she completely freaks.

Stuck with a front-row view of Sean and Natalie making out against the backdrop of a country that oozes romance, Jessa promises to follow all of the outrageous instructions in her best friend's care package and open her heart to new experiences. Enter cute Italian boy stage left.

Jessa had prepared to play the role of humiliated ex-girlfriend, but with Carissa directing her life from afar, it’s finally time to take a shot at being a star.

I was sold when I found out about Jessa’s coming-of-age journey through Italy! And that cover! I think I did what this cover girl is doing a lot while I was sightseeing across Europe. I just knew this was a book for me, and Kim Culbertson took me right back to Italy with this one! I loved it! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. Poor Jessa. I loved her because she was normal. She was cheated on, and she griped and complained and mourned the loss of what she had with her boyfriend. And who wouldn’t? I’ve seen reviewers complain that Jessa whines to much, and I say to you: “Have you ever been cheated on?” I have. By an idiot. And you get mad and sad, and yes–you whine. And you flip flop. “I love him, I hate him, I want him to die, I wonder how he’s doing, I miss him, I’m better off without him, Let’s see if I can run into him somewhere while looking hot, I never want to see him again…” I know you know what I mean. Jessa was human, and seriously… I’ve had weepy friends whine more than Jessa did. I loved watching her get through all these emotions! I’m not sure I could handle a trip to Italy after a bad break-up. I admired her for not letting her boyfriend ruin the opportunity to see Italy. And I loved watching her discover herself. I think that when we feel strong emotions, we come out with a better understanding of who we are and how we want to be. Jessa learned a lot, and she matured SO much during this 10-day trip.

2. Carissa, Jessa’s best friend, is… unique. I can’t say I liked her because I did not get to know much about her at all. And honestly, I don’t think she’s a very good friend all things considered. She wrote up 20 envelopes for Jessa to open during her trip. Each envelope had something sucky about Sean in it, followed by something totally out-of-character that Jessa had to do. I liked that Carissa pushed Jessa a bit, but I also felt like some of her instructions were way too catty and immature. As Jessa got further along through the healing process and came to grips with her situation, I felt more and more like Carissa’s silly envelopes needed to be thrown in the river.

3. Tyler and Dylan Thomas (named after the poet) were Jessa’s two male compatriots throughout the trip. They helped her cope, talked some sense into her when she needed it, and sat with her when she just needed to listen to her show tunes on her iPod. I liked them a lot. Both are just nice, nice guys.

4. Oh, Italy, my love. You can tell the author actually WENT to Italy. I get so annoyed when authors write about a place, and you can just TELL that they have never set foot even close to it. I’ve been to many of the places in this book, and Kim wrote them right. It made me really miss Italy, and want to go back and visit the places I didn’t make it to!

5. Obviously, the romance is minimal, but there’s a little glimmer of possibility that was sweet. 

6. This book had so many pretty quotes! I’m going to paste a part of my favorite quote below. It’s actually a huge quote, but I don’t want to ruin things by posting it all. So here’s my favorite piece. I love it because traveling does do this to a person. Traveling fills holes, heals you in so many ways, and sends you home with a much better understanding of yourself.

I get to take Italy home with me, the Italy that showed me you and the Italy that showed me—me—the Italy that wrote me my very own instructions for a broken heart. And I get to leave the other heart in a hole. We are over. I know this. But we are not blank. We were a beautiful building made of stone, crumbled now and covered in vines. But not blank. Not forgotten. We are a history. We are beauty out of ruins.

Really, there’s not a ton I can say about this book. It’s about a teenage girl who gets hurt, and then has to go on a dream trip to Italy with the person who hurt her. It’s about healing, forgiveness, self-discovery, and growing up. There’s a lot of scenery, a lot of theater references, a lot of introspection, and a lot of emotions. The plot was predictable in places, and some might feel like this subject matter has been done and overdone, but I ended up really enjoying it! The ending made the book for me, and I would recommend it to anyone who loves traveling, coming of age stories, and light contemporary, summery reads!

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8 Responses to “Instructions for a Broken Heart by Kim Culbertson (Book Review)”

  1. Ashley

    You had me sold at Italy. Italy. I will pretty much read anything set in Europe this just sounds like a pretty light read. Thanks for bringing my attention to it.

  2. anaherareads

    I really like this, I love books where the character deals with things that they have to let go of, and move on to better things. :) So adding this to my Goodreads! Thanks! :D

  3. Alexa Y.

    This sounds lovely! I always enjoy books that allow me to vicariously visit other places, and Italy is definitely a place I’d want to visit someday. I’m going to have to check this one out, for sure. Glad you enjoyed it!

  4. Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

    I love the sound of this book, and I almost never read contemporary YA. Or books set in Italy. (No offense to Italy. It’s just that when I dream of traveling, it’s usually to Great Britain.) But something about the way you describe this book makes me want to read it.

  5. Annie

    I’ve never heard of this book until this review but it sounds amazing! I love books set in foreign countries, and Italy is somewhere I’ve wanted to go FOREVER. Excellent review! :)

  6. Kim (YA Asylum)

    This book sounds so great! I feel sorry for Jessa already. When something like that happens, I think someone has a right to complain for a long while. It hurts to be cheated on. Plus the concept of a coming-of-age story in Italy is just fabulous. I’m going to have to add this to my TBR.

    Any book that has a lot of great quotes has to be read too. Great review!

  7. elena

    Hm, this does sound like a good contemp overall! I think the cover is really cute and I can already see what you mean about Jessica being relatable. Augh, I hate it when the friends aren’t that great because friendship is great!! Wonderful review.

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