The Breakup Lists

The Breakup Lists
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Release Date
April 02, 2024
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Love is more complicated than “boy meets boy” in bestselling author Adib Khorram’s sharply funny new romantic comedy, set in the sordid world of high school theater

Jackson Ghasnavi is a lot of things—a techie, a smoothie afficionado, a totally not obsessive list-maker—but one thing he’s not is a romantic. And why would he be? He’s already had a front row seat to his parents’ divorce and picked up the pieces of his sister Jasmine’s broken heart one too many times.

No, Jackson is perfectly happy living life behind the scenes—he is a stage manager, after all—and keeping his romantic exploits limited to the breakup lists he makes for Jasmine, which chronicle every flaw (real or imagined) of her various and sundry exes.

Enter Liam: the senior swim captain turned leading man that neither of the Ghasnavi siblings stop thinking about. Not that Jackson has a crush, of course. Jasmine is already setting her sights on him and he’s probably—no, definitely—straight anyway.

So why does the idea of eventually writing a breakup list for him feel so impossible?

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consuming YA contemporary romance
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THE BREAKUP LISTS is a fantastic and consuming YA contemporary romance. Jackson is a junior in high school, whose passion is theatre tech. The theatre kids usually stick together for the long haul, so he is surprised when Liam decides to try out for the school musical. Liam is friends with Jackson's BFF Bowie, so they know each other, but they haven't been friends themselves. When Liam makes a bargain with him that if he makes the play, then Jackson will bring him schmoodies like he does for Bowie, they start on the path to getting to know each other better.

Things get more complicated when Jackson's sister Jasmine develops a crush on Liam. Thinking Liam is straight, Jackson is willing to ignore his crush on Liam and push him towards his sister. Jasmine has a long history of massive crushes and falling hard after breakups, which is why Jackson helps her with breakup lists of the terrible qualities of the guys she is crushed over losing. However, with Jackson's crush on Liam growing and their friendship developing even more, Jackson is conflicted with what seems like the inevitable.

What I loved: This was such a consuming and perfectly paced read. I found it unputdownable and devoured it in a day. The story is told like a play in four acts, with the first couple acts being filled with so much passion and pining that the reader cannot help but feel it too. The entire book is told from Jackson's perspective, and his voice really comes to life in the story.

Jackson is a compelling character who cares deeply about his sister as well as the friends who are close to him. He struggles with the way people treat him for his deafness and his past stutter (particularly an ex-boyfriend who never misses an opportunity to be cruel), but also in the everyday small microaggressions and missteps. When Liam learns to sign on his own, this is particularly meaningful for Jackson, as it is his easiest way to communicate - but even his bio-parents have not learned this skill (his stepmother has learned some). All of these little things, including the way the theatre teacher frequently fobs him off, can really add up. His lists help him to process the resulting anger.

While the focus of the story is on the romance, which was really powerful, Jackson's growth and development has a strong arc as well. Like many YA readers, he is still finding the way to express himself, deal with negative feelings, and manage his way through the world. He matures throughout the story, not only due to his interactions with Liam, but also due to the way his other relationships change and the mistakes that are made.

This was quite an emotional consuming read, and the writing really pulls the reader into Jackson's head. The big conflict created a lot of tension leading up to it, but the resolution was equally as strong. It was quite the ride, and it made for an excellent read.

Other strengths of the story were in the representation for LGBTQIA+ characters, the depiction of therapy as a tool, and non-romantic relationships (the romance was very strong though, of course, too). The ending was great, and the journey to get there even better.

What left me wanting more: As a very small thing, there were a lot of crossed out words in the book, aligning with the way Jackson thought. While this contributed to his voice, it was tough to know how to read them and broke up the flow a bit for me. Their density was highest at first in the story though, and it definitely became less frequent later in the story, making it a bit easier to process. Notably, other readers may not find this as tough, as it is most likely a personal challenge.

Final verdict: THE BREAKUP LISTS is a powerful YA contemporary romance about managing emotions, falling in love, and the relationships that matter most. Highly recommend picking this one up!
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