The Break-Up Artist by Philip Siegal
Harlequin Teen, 319 pages
US Release Date: April 29, 2014
Format/Source: ARC via Around the World Tours - thank you!
Some sixteen-year-olds babysit for extra cash.
Some work at the mall.
Becca Williamson breaks up couples.
Becca knows from experience the damage that love can do. After all, it was so-called love that turned Huxley from her childhood best friend into a social-world dictator, and love that left Becca's older sister devastated at the altar. Instead of sitting on the sidelines, Becca strikes back—for just one hundred dollars via PayPal, she will trick and manipulate any couple's relationship into smithereens. And with relationship zombies overrunning her school and treating single girls as if they're second-class citizens, business is unfortunately booming. Even Becca's best friend, Val, has resorted to outright lies to snag a boyfriend.
One night, Becca receives a mysterious offer to break up the most popular couple in school: Huxley and raw football team's star player, Steve. To succeed, she'll have to plan her most elaborate scheme to date—starting rumors, sabotaging cell phones, breaking into cars...not to mention sneaking back into Huxley's good graces. All while fending off the inappropriate feelings she may or may not be having for Val's new boyfriend.
No one said being the Break-Up Artist would be easy.
Why do my classmates believe that saying those three words automatically protects a couple? They’re not relationship insurance.
I’m having a hard time writing this review because I’m so “meh” towards the book. There were parts I liked, some I really liked…and there were parts I didn’t like, and definitely parts I really DIDN’T like. Everything kind of cancels out, so I’m left with just a neutral feeling towards it.
I like the concept of The Break Up Artist. I feel like it’s been done a few times, but there are certain elements that still make it feel unique. I like that it’s one person as the Artist, that she’s working alone (mostly), that she hides it from everyone. I like that Becca has a reason to believe something, I like that she has to work through some things.
I did not like how extreme some of the situations were. I definitely called Becca’s sister and her and a few others “bitter old hags” in my head more than once. I may have even said it out loud at one point. I felt like I had to suspend my reality, kind of forget a lot of the things I’ve learned about humans and humanity and think people really were as dense as they were coming across in the book.
I liked Val and the friendship she had with Becca. I thought the idea behind this book, that those in relationships treat singletons differently was a pretty good one, if not a bit exaggerated. I’ve been single all my life (only recently have I been realizing that perhaps some of it has been by choice) and I have my fair few memories when people treated me differently for it. People who thought I was sad or pathetic for not having someone, people who thought I must be lonely or excluded me because I wasn’t paired off. Some of that is real, and I appreciated it in this book. Especially when it came to Val and her boyfriend and how that friendship slowly changed.
Becca’s school is definitely the exaggeration. I appreciated the attempt to justify it with the boy-to-girl ratio, but I won’t buy it. I found Steve and Huxley’s relationship cute and sweet, but also a tad unrealistic. Most of the ones in here are slightly so.
I most certainly did not like Diane, nor did I like Val’s boyfriend. I liked that Diana gave a reason to Becca to do a lot of the shenanigans she partook (is that a word?) in, but Diane was just…ugh. I want her to grow up and get a grip. Yes, of course, have a mourning period, but don’t take it out on friends and just…UGH. Horrible. And I’m not talking about Val’s boyfriend—not just because it would spoil some things. He’s a cliché, he was easy to read as what he would turn into, and I was not impressed.
Ultimately, what saved this story for me were the friendships. I liked the nerd boys at Becca’s table, I liked Val and Becca when there wasn’t a guy standing around them, I liked Becca’s relationship and friendship with her sister. I even liked Huxley (probably best of all the characters). When she wasn’t spouting some crap about needing a boyfriend, she actually made a lot of sense and felt the most rounded of everyone.
The Break Up Artist was definitely hit-or-miss with me, and so much so that I just can’t seem to make up my mind what it is. For every part I hated, there was a part I liked. If it sounds like something that intrigues you, give it a whirl.