Daniel Handler's Why We Broke Up made me feel everything Min felt, which I think is about the highest compliment I can offer a writer. I also find myself explaining my first name to people, why my parents named me that, and a history of my various aliases.
In junior high I changed to my middle name, Marie, which everyone can say and spell without any trouble. Because that is junior high, and you want most of all to be like everyone else. And then in high school I changed my name back to Mette because I wanted to be different and I wanted to tell people all about my name. And also, people ask me if Mette is short for something and I started to tell them that it's short for Mediterranean, because my parents named all the kids after oceans, and my siblings are Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, and Arctic. “Min” is short for Minerva, the goddess of wisdom, which is what Min's father wants to name her, despite the fact that he is almost completely absent from this book.
I have no interest in old films, but the detail that Min uses to talk about them astonished me. She almost made me want to give up some of my own hobbies and follow hers. Again, a compliment for a writer if there is any. If you can make a reader who has never heard of something before feel the passion of the character for it, you are doing your job.
But most of all, I felt the way that Min felt about Ed. He was the cool basketball kid and at first she isn't sure about him, but she falls more and more in love with him. All the clues are there for the reader about the problems between them, and yet I, as a reader, wanted to be just as blind as Min wanted to be. I wanted the romance to work, despite the fact that you know from the first page that this is a break up story. Maybe you can fix the break up at the end?
And even as I was rooting for Min and Ed, I was also rooting for Al, the forgotten, nerdy boyfriend who Ed is strangely jealous of, and who is driving Min as she is working on her long break up novel/letter to Ed. He was obviously the nice guy, but nice guys so rarely win out in romantic comedies. I was so ready not to believe it, so ready to think that the writer would end up shoving the two characters together at the end, but it was not a shove. It was a gentle nudge, and it worked.