Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell

Frederica “Freddy” Riley has a problem. She’s in love with Laura Dean, one of the most popular girls in her school. When things are good, they’re great. Unfortunately, Laura Dean has broken up with Freddy three times in the last year. Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me explores all of the messy aspects of love, from loving someone who might not be the best for you, letting your relationship impact your friendships, and learning to when enough is enough and gaining the courage to move on.

Freddy is 17, and the first time we see her is at the classic high school rite of passage, a Valentine’s Day dance. Freddy is with her amazing friend group, and Laura Dean is supposed to meet her at the dance. She does, only to get called away by a friend minutes later, leaving Freddy on her own. Laura takes things a step further by hooking up with someone at the dance, leaving Freddy heartbroken, and leading her to make the questionable decision to drink schnapps and cause a bit of a scene at a local donut shop (#relatable). Freddy spends much of the story writing to the online advice columnist Anna Vice and trying to make things work with Laura.

Raves

-Freddy’s parents. So many YA novels feature crappy parents, but Laura’s are an exception. Her parents are very clearly in love, and are that perfect mix of supportive and embarrassing that will ring very true for anyone who’s ever been a teen.

-Freddy’s friends. While Laura’s girlfriend might be hot and cold, she has a group of true blue friends. Her best friend Doodle is incredibly patient, putting up with Freddy’s selfish behavior as she frequently cancels plans with her to chase after Laura. Buddy and Eric are complete relationship goals. After the embarrassing donut incident, Freddy becomes friends with the sharp-witted Vi, who I would gladly read an entire book about.

Dear Vi, I love you so much

-The art: The art is absolutely gorgeous. It is mostly black and white with a limited use of pink. Laura Dean is frequently shown alone in a frame, recreating the “deer in the headlights, you’re the only thing I see” blindness that love can cause.

See what I mean?

-How real this book is: If you haven’t made bad decisions and hurt your friends because of being in love with someone, congratulations. This is maybe not the book for you. For the rest of us, this will feel very familiar. When I look back at past romantic interests, I cringe at how much I was willing to put up with from crappy partners or crushes that lead me on. I feel badly for ditching my true friends and not being there for them in times of need all because I was chasing after someone who truly didn’t care about me. While reading this might make you cringe in embarrassment, Freddy’s journey of personal growth gives hope to all of us.

A Note About Laura Dean, or To All the Joshes I’ve Loved Before

No matter what your sexual orientation might be, you’ve probably met someone like Laura Dean. Maybe you dated them, maybe you were just friends with them. Laura Dean is super popular, and says all the things that someone wants to hear. She seems like she’d be the perfect person to date, and when she and Freddy first meet, she makes Freddy feel like the most important person in the world. However, her actions are constantly flaky and just…awful.  She invites Freddy to a party, but then ditches her because she has to “play host.” She shows up unexpectedly at Freddy’s house, making it difficult for Freddy to truly cut ties. She says manipulative things like “You know every time we break up, we always get back together. Because we have this thing. Because you get me and I get you. And we get that that is more important than some stupid kiss right?” Welcome to Emotional Manipulation 101. She’s one of those people that when you’re in their favor, you feel like the queen of the world, but as soon as they get bored with you, you’re back to feeling desperate and pathetic.

The Laura Deans in my life have all been dudes name Josh. Apologizes to any Joshes I haven’t dated, but the Joshes in my dating life treated me like I was an option, and expected me to be available whenever they were in the mood for me. The constant hot and cold really does a number on your self-esteem.  I remember all of the tears I cried over men who were not worth a single tear, much less many of them. If there’s one thing to be learned from Freddy and my shared experiences is don’t date someone who only treats you like an option and not a priority. No one is worth that, and you’re better off living a fabulous single life instead of being with someone like that. Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me is a very real, and very wonderful book.

YOU GO FREDDY!
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Elizabeth Weislak is a youth services librarian who is passionate about readers advisory. She loves art museums, breakfast foods, cheese, dogs, early literacy, and feminism. An enthusiastic morning person, she can frequently be found pestering her family and friends to read her latest favorite 

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