The Breakup Artists

The Breakup Artists
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Release Date
June 04, 2024
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Adriana Mather, New York Times bestselling author of How to Hang a Witch, brings her signature wit, wild imagination, and all the feels to her new YA novel, The Breakup Artists—perfect for fans of Jennifer E. Smith’s The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight.
August and Valentine, seventeen-year-old best friends, run a business called Summer Love, Inc. They hire themselves out to unhappy parents whose kids are in bad relationships, adopting fake identities and going undercover to break up these relationships by any means necessary.

Valentine, the brains of the operation, believes that they’re making the world a better place by steering people away from a relationship precipice so they can someday find true love. But for August, every case is personal—another chance to prove that true love doesn’t exist. He blames his sister’s manipulative boyfriend for her death, and—unlike Valentine—he doesn’t believe in soulmates. No, he thinks the idea of falling head-over-heels is ridiculous at any age.

But then August meets Ella, who suddenly turns everything he thought he believed about love upside down. The problem is that she’s their new case, which means that everything he’s told her about himself is a lie—including his name.

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1 review
engaging YA contemporary about following your dreams and falling in love
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THE BREAKUP ARTISTS is a consuming YA contemporary about following your dreams and falling in love. Two years ago, Valentine (Tiny) and August started their business, Summer Love. They are hired by parents or friends to break up someone who is in a bad relationship but doesn't realize it. They do this through friendship and support, allowing that person to get back on track to following their dreams.

After the way that August lost his sister, he is determined to help others get out of their own bad relationships, and the business helped get him out of his grief. The money is sorely needed for him to follow his dream of going to Berkley with Tiny, but with the bills piling up at home, it's getting harder to save anything.

Their summer case is one that changes everything for August, mostly because he sees so much of his sister and her boyfriend in it. As he lets more of himself slip, he might be falling for Ella for real, but she doesn't even know his real name. Tiny has her own drama this summer with another neighbor who seems like a player, but as she gets to know him, she realizes he's so much more.

What I loved: This was a really interesting read, told in alternating perspectives between Tiny and August. While they have been the closest of best friends as next-door neighbors for the longest time, this summer is one where their paths diverge. August will find himself opening up to and getting close to their case, Ella, while Tiny is having her own romantic crisis with Bentley, who lives behind them. I found the relationship for Tiny to be the most compelling, and I loved that it was included.

The premise of their company was interesting and had kind of a FAILURE TO LAUNCH feel, but it worked well. Their focus is on friendship, and while it would be natural for some feelings to grow, they keep a line between them and the clients. This worked well until August found himself getting genuinely close to Ella. This was at first driven by the similarities between her relationship and that of his sister, but as they get to know each other, it was built on something deeper.

The inclusion of memories from the past and breaking down the more casual/normal ways that some of their clients are being manipulated were really powerful. These are some really mature kids (even if they do some immature things from time to time), and they really model healthy relationships and conversations, juxtaposing them with the more dangerous. Subtle guilt-tripping, mood changes, and other things can be early emotional abuse, and the book shows and explains them well.

Other themes around complicated family, two-way friendships, listening, honesty, grief/loss, and being true to yourself were also really powerful. The main characters had quite disparate family dynamics, and this was true even beyond Tiny and August (ie, Bentley and Ella as well). These different families and experiences were interesting and showed how the characters were truly shaped and molded by their lives. Not all parent-child relationships were straight-forward, and they showed a complexity over time with not all being great or wrapped up with a bow.

The book is quite evocative and emotional. I would definitely have some tissues handy and expect to feel all the things. The ending was a happy one and quite satisfying, with the key pieces falling where you would expect.

Final verdict: Overall, THE BREAKUP ARTISTS is an engaging YA contemporary that will keep readers hooked and believing in love and the possibility of the future.
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