Book Review: Instructions for a Broken Heart by Kim Culbertson

Instructions for a Broken Heart cover imageJust before she’s set to leave for Italy with her high school drama club, Jessa catches her boyfriend, Sean, making out with another girl. Going on the trip is harder than she thought it would be, especially because Sean and his new girlfriend are also part of the drama club.

So she sets out to get over Sean with the help of her best friend, Carissa, who has sent along instructions for Jessa to do one thing each day of her trip that takes her out of her comfort zone and onto the path of getting over Sean.

Instructions for a Broken Heart by Kim Culbertson takes Jessa on a journey of discovery about herself and the people around her. And while I think I could recover from a broken heart quite nicely while traveling around Italy, Culbertson paints a picture of how it could be a challenge too. Everywhere Jessa looks she sees people who appear to be in love. And everywhere she goes she would love to share her observations about the people and the countryside with someone she cares about.

As Jessa takes on each instruction, she discovers that relationships can’t necessarily be taken at face value, and people are more complicated that the veneers they display to the world. As she recognizes what was good and what was bad in her just-ended relationship, Jessa also learns how she wants to go forward. Culbertson does an excellent job of capturing the sense of insecurity that comes from rejection and the volatility and stress that many teens experience.

There are lots of issues for mother-daughter book clubs with girls aged 14 and up to discuss in Instructions for a Broken Heart. How do you maintain your sense of self when you date someone? How do you keep self-confidence when a relationship ends? How do you determine if your activities support your passions or other people’s expectations of you? Did I mention you’ll want to travel to Italy as a group too? Culbertson’s descriptions of the places Jessa’s group visits will definitely have you longing to pack your bags. At the very least, you’ll be inspired to go out for gelato while you talk about this book.

Check back tomorrow when author Kim Culbertson answers questions about her writing life and her book. You may also want to check out the book trailer; access it from the author’s website:

Publisher Sourcebooks provided me with a copy of this book to review.

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