Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: May 1, 2011
Source of my copy: publisher
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
Three days before her drama club's trip to Italy, Jessa Gardner discovers her boyfriend in the costume barn with another girl. Jessa is left with a care package from her best friend titled "Top Twenty Reasons He's a Slimy Jerk Bastard," instructing her to do one un-Jessa-like thing each day of the trip. At turns hilarious and heartwrenching, Instructions for a Broken Heart paints a magical Italy in which Jessa learns she must figure out life-and romance-for herself.
In the beginning of this book, I couldn't help but notice the similarities that Jessa has to Calle in Ms. Culbertson's first book Songs for a Teenage Nomad. Like Calle, Jessa is friends with the drama kids, always has her music with her and is experiencing a new place and meeting new people. I thought that a little odd at first and was afraid that this will be like a reread of Songs for a Teenage Nomad but as I continued to read, Jessa was able to set herself apart from Calle by having a unique personality that sort of resembled my own and had conquered her problems in a deeper, more soul-searching way.
Jessa was a great character who I grew to love and care for like a close friend. What I really liked about her was how half the time she was her smart, thoughtful and intelligent self, which I admired. Then, she would get so stubborn, clueless and thoughtless that I would want to reach into the book and get a hold of her to shake some sense into her. But then again, I have to admit that sometimes I could be clueless and thoughtless too--and that was one of the similarities that I noticed we shared. I also found that Jessa and I were both smart, studious girls that can be thoughtless about many things even though we try to be thoughtful about everything.
Both of Ms Culbertson's books are soul-searching and deep and have the main character go through many experiences to understand who they really are. I love those kind of contemporary YA novels and that is one of the reasons why I enjoyed both of her books so much. But if I had to choose which is my favorite between her two books, I would have to say Instructions for a Broken Heart. As much I loved Songs for a Teenage Nomad, I think that this book was much more personal and soul-searching. In the beginning of the book, I was worried about Jessa and if she'll ever be able to move on. She was trying to get over her ex-boyfriend who cheated on her but was forced to watch him and his new girlfriend hang out during as they were on a once-in-a-lifetime class trip to Italy. But as I continued to read, I saw Jessa starting to move on and become stronger by examining herself through reflecting and taking in her surroundings and even doing some awful things to her ex. And when I had finally reached the ending, she was the better and stronger person she was meant to be.
Ms. Culbertson did not disappoint in Instructions for a Broken Heart. It was amazing and I recommend to anyone who wants to read a coming-of-age contemporary YA read set in the beautiful Italy. Ms Culbertson's vivid and thoughtful writing will have you traveling to Italy along with Jessa and her class. Its sweet ending will make your heart soar and have you wishing you can fly to Italy yourself right then and there and experience all that Jessa did. 5 out of 5 stars