Friday, August 12, 2011

Book Review: Instructions for a Broken Heart by Kim Culbertson

Pages: 304
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Pub. Date: May 1, 2011
Source: Personal Copy
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "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."

Jessa is in a drama club that is taking a trip of a lifetime to Italy over spring break.  Jessa's boyfriend, Sean, is also part of the drama club and is going as well, which leaves her with much excitement.....that is until she finds Sean making out with another girl in the costume barn.  Jessa is destroyed by this betrayal, but she is still set on going to Italy even though Sean will be there with his new girlfriend.  Unfortunately, her best friend, Carissa, can't go, and sends her a package with twenty reasons why her ex-boyfriend is a "slimy jerk bastard" and challenges her to do something very unlike her everyday.  Kim Culbertson's Instructions for a Broken Heart had a lot of potential, but ultimately, it left me wanting more.

Jessa was hard to relate to and quite honestly was hard to take.  Here we are in Rome, one of the most magical cities in the world, and she keeps focusing on Sean and his new girlfriend's every move.  Yes, that should be on her mind with what she just went through, but comon'......look around you, girl!  If anyone can forget a bad heartbreak, Rome is the place to do it, but every other moment, she was focusing on him.  There were these glimpses of Jessa getting over Sean and actually enjoying Rome, but then something would happen and she would fall apart again. She was really a hot mess.

Me at Capri
The setting, obviously, is incredible.  Culbertson takes us to Rome, Florence, Venice, Naples, Tuscany, and the Amalfi Coast. I was salivating, because I just visited Italy for the first time this past spring.  I was marinating in Culbertson's descriptions and could picture it as if I was there with Jessa.  I especially enjoyed her descriptions of Capri and the tour of Rome at night.  It was to die for and took me right back to my own trip.  

The characters in Instructions for a Broken Heart were interesting, especially the minor characters that were part of the drama club.  I really liked her good friend, Tyler and Dylan Thomas, too.  One part that made my skin crawl was Jessa's relationship with her teacher, Mr. Campbell.  Reading these scenes really made me uncomfortable and I didn't like it one bit since I teach teenagers as well. I felt it was extremely inappropriate.

Instructions for a Broken Heart reminded me a bit of 13 Little Blue Envelopes meets Eat Pray Love.  It had a lot of potential, but since I couldn't relate to Jessa, she ruined it for me.  Granted it does capture first heartbreak very well, but I felt it was missing something.  Thankfully, Jessa does find herself on this trip and learns many things about life and love.  This is why I adore traveling.  You take your trip with you forever and the lessons thats you've learned stay with you.  By the end of the trip, Jessa is much stronger.

*Watch the book trailer


  1. I had forgotten that I wanted to read this book. Thanks for the reminder!

  2. Mmm, not sure if I want to read this one. It does sounds interesting, but the girl sounds a bit annoying. I mean, I probably would be yelling at her to get over him. ;) But I do LOVE Eat,Pray,Love! ;)Great review.

  3. Travel is definitely a great way to forget a broken heart -- and it's too bad that the main character wasn't able to do that! Sorry this fell flat for you. I'm still a little intrigued, if only for the setting... might give it a try!

  4. Sounds like a pass for me. But thanks for the awesome honest post.

  5. Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts and opinions about the book. It sounds like a great read!!

    Sherry Soule Official Website

    Author of the Spellbound Series

  6. I've heard Jessa is really hard to get on board with since she seems to squander an amazing trip focusing on other little things. Love that this book focuses on travel, I love a good travel story, but I think Jessa would frustrate me:)

  7. I can't stand reading a book where it's difficult to relate to the main character. I think I'll read 13 Little Blue Envelopes instead since I already got it :) I've already read Eat, Pray, Love so I'll get a taste of what IFABH might be like then ;)

    Great review :)

  8. Thanks for checking out my review, everyone! If you are a fan of travel and Italy, you will probably enjoy it...despite the annoying main character. Thanks for stopping by!

  9. Hey, I was also in Italy this spring! We did Rome, Florence, Sorrento, Capri, and the Amalfi Coast. Wonder if we crossed paths at some point and didn't realize it!

    That said, I agree that if a character can only focus on her personal drama while immersed in one of the most historic, gorgeous, exciting countries in the world, then she's probably not going to me an MC I'm going to enjoy reading. So, while the premise sounds fun, I'll probably skip this one for now. Thanks for the honest review!


  10. Books just never work out for me when I can't relate to the lead character! I do, however, think I'd really enjoy the descriptions of Rome at night in this book. The Italian setting makes me want to read this one!

  11. Excellent review! It is too bad the main character is annoying. I enjoy reading books set in Italy but I don't know that I will read this one if she just complains the whole time.

  12. this one sounds cute, maybe i'll get it if i find it for a bargain :)


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