The Museum of Heartbreak by Meg Leder

THe Museum of HeartbreakSynopsis: In this ode to all the things we gain and lose and gain again, seventeen-year-old Penelope Marx curates her own mini-museum to deal with all the heartbreaks of love, friendship, and growing up.

Welcome to the Museum of Heartbreak.

Well, actually, to Penelope Marx’s personal museum. The one she creates after coming face to face with the devastating, lonely-making butt-kicking phenomenon known as heartbreak.

Heartbreak comes in all forms: There’s Keats, the charmingly handsome new guy who couldn’t be more perfect for her. There’s possibly the worst person in the world, Cherisse, whose mission in life is to make Penelope miserable. There’s Penelope’s increasingly distant best friend Audrey. And then there’s Penelope’s other best friend, the equal-parts-infuriating-and-yet-somehow-amazing Eph, who has been all kinds of confusing lately.

But sometimes the biggest heartbreak of all is learning to let go of that wondrous time before you ever knew things could be broken.

Instagram made me read this book.

I owe Instagram A LOT.

Wow. The Museum of Heartbreak is completely unlike any other romantic contemporary I’ve read before. From its wholly unique structure to the inception-esque love story, I just could not read this book fast enough.

Really, this book has everything:

Dinosaurs. I am now convinced that contemporary YA novels just do not give dinosaurs the front-and-center positioning they deserve. Seriously. Where are the freaking dinos guys?? Well, I’m here to reassure you… If you, too, find yourself bemoaning the presence of our long-extinct reptilian friends, bemoan no more. The Museum of Heartbreak brings dinos back in style. They take center stage, destroy cities, break hearts, and bring people together. It’s complicated, okay? But I promise, the dinosaur presence in this book is just the pick-me-up I needed during a middle-of-the-week reading session. They warmed my frozen ice-age heart.

Backstabbing Friends Who Really Do Have Your Best Interests at Heart. Think back. Like, way way back. Stop when you get to a time you had a huge fight with one of your best friends, only to later realize that you were actually the one who was wrong. Come on, you know that’s happened to you at least once (and if you think it hasn’t, you may have a bigger pride issue on hand that you need to work through). We’ve all done it. It’s so easy to blow up, get angry, and then let our pride carry us away on a banner of “being right.” It’s so so hard to admit that we were wrong, or that we hurt someone we love unintentionally, or that maybe, just maybe, that hard thing we really really didn’t want to hear was actually exactly what we needed to hear. Our best friends love us, but that doesn’t mean they have to pander to us. Which, of course, makes life harder than it would be if we all just lied to each other and only ever development shallow boring friendships built on lies. But, let’s be real. Who would actually be happier in that kind of lie-based relationship? (Again, if you answered yes, you may have some issues you need to go work through before you finish this review). I LOVED the way friendships were portrayed in The Museum of Heartbreak. Pen doesn’t want to hear things that go against what she believes (who does?) and it causes quite a lot of heartache between her and her two best friends. I found the friendship storyline to be very true to life, and I was wrapped up in how easily we can let our pride overtake our common sense. I was also humbled by the way these characters chose to come back together in the end and admit they were wrong. That takes some very true humility, and it made me want to do that more often in my own life.

“OH S***” Moments. I think the recipe for a good summer contemporary is 2 parts romance, 3 parts heartthrob love interested, 4 parts book loving characters, and 2.5 parts “WHAAAAA?????” moments. They OMG moments are the secret ingredient that keep the storyline feeling fresh from start to finish. There were some real twists and turns in this book that kept me leaning forward in my seat as I read.  

Love Story Inception. I wasn’t a huge fan of the movie Inception, but I do like the concept of a place within a place or a story within a story, and so on and so forth. I love that this romance isn’t what it seems at the beginning. As you go through the book, a simple story of heartbreak gets broken down into something bigger than broken hearts, bigger than best friends, bigger than fear. It’s such a beautiful story, with a message of letting go of the things that hurt you in order to find the things that make you whole again.

Crazy Awesome Structure. I adored how this book was broken down into vignettes based around the items in Pen’s “Museum of Heartbreak.” Each item centers around a moment or a day that helps propel the story forward, with the plot filling in the gaps and connecting each item into a cohesive whole. I was in love with it from the get go and I am still in awe of how something as sweet and simple as these seemingly mundane objects (a dark chocolate Kit-Kat wrapper, a hideous Santa status, a t-rex necklace, a flyer for a literary magazine) could work together to tell such a beautiful, heart wrenching tale of falling in (and out) of love, growing up, and discovering who you are and who you want to be.

This book blew my mind. If you’re looking for something you won’t be able to put down this summer, then you have got to give The Museum of Heartbreak a chance.

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