Breaking Up Is Hard To Do…But You Could Have Done Better, by Hilary Campbell
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Net Gallery/Animal Media Group. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
Most people have experienced the pain of a breakup, sometimes in ways that were particularly comical or tragicomical, and for such people who want to share their embarrassing experiences and put a humorous light on them to take the sting out of the experience, this book is a hilarious and unsurprisingly awkward tour of user-submitted stories. As might be imagined, the author was inspired to start this as a blog project from her own breakup experiences, and guessed correctly that there would be plenty of other people whose experiences with love and romance have been particularly awkward . The result is a book that does allow for a laugh among people that places their own awkward experiences in a context that shows that others have it just as bad if not worse, which is hard for some of us to manage given the disastrous nature of our own relationships. At the very least, a book like this encourages us to believe that our misfortune in love is at least not our fault alone, if at all, whether or not that is accurate.
This book is organized in a pretty simple and straightforward fashion. First comes a story about some sort of awkward and botched breakup and then there is a drawing of some kind that shows it in a humorous light. The stories and drawings are the stars of this show, and names have been changed to protect the identity of the guilty as well as the (relatively) innocent. Included in this story are cowardly breakups by phone or text, a lot of cheating partners whose behavior is uncovered in unusual ways, breakups that are followed by regret and failed attempts at reconciliation, such as when someone is called a model who ends up being a kleptomaniacal stripper. Some of the breakups are from people who are young, sometimes older, but in all cases something clearly went wrong. Some of the more poignant experiences are attempts at scaring someone into intimacy through pregnancy that do not go well or times where someone has spent a great deal of effort to make a long distance relationship work only to find out that the other person wasn’t putting in the effort. In some cases one of the partners wanted a more serious partner and the other one just wanted to keep it casual, with inevitable heartbreak.
Yet even though this is a lighthearted book that takes heartbreak as an opportunity to create beautiful drawings as well as tell humorous stories, there are deeper elements to the book as well. One of the darker elements of the book is the way that our longings tend to push us into intimacy, and that often our feelings our engaged when our bodies are engaged, despite the fact that the time and situation may not be ideal. Our attempts at making a clean break from the past may be hindered by our regrets or the fact that we were a good enough partner that someone else would regret no longer being with us. This is a book that reminds us that although we may laugh about our misguided attempts to hold on to people or the way that we or others may not have acted honorably in our relationships, that our attempts to laugh it off and shake it off do not mean that we cease trying to connect with other people no matter how we have been hurt before. Our optimism and the intensity of our longings tends to make us keep trying again, hoping, sometimes against hope, that this time we will get it right.
 See, for example: