Instructions For a Broken Heart by Kim Culbertson

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Now on to the review....

Instructions For a Broken Heart by Kim Culbertson
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Format: ARC (courtesy of Sourcebooks)
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
Publication Date: 5.1.2011
When Jessa catches her boyfriend, Sean, making out with Natalie "the Boob Job" Stone three days before her drama club's departure to Italy, she completely freaks.

Stuck with a front-row view of Sean and Natalie making out against the backdrop of a country that oozes romance, Jessa promises to follow all of the outrageous instructions in her best friend's care package and open her heart to new expectations.

Enter cute Italian boy stage left.

Jessa had prepared to play the role of humiliated ex-girlfriend, but with Carissa directing her life from afar it's finally time to take a shot at being star.

From the moment I first read this book's description, I knew I wanted to read it. I was excited to finally be able to pick it up this weekend, and had a great time reading. It did not disappoint.

After the first few pages of reading, I was worried this would become something similar to 13 Little Blue Envelopes, and I regretted reading both books so close together. But it quickly turned into something different; Jessa's path not only to self discovery, but to discovery of a couple key life lessons. There are secrets, lies, betrayals, and heartache between these pages, all shown while traveling through Italy.

The situation that Jessa is put into is very real. It happens a lot, and I think we all know how hard it is to face your first heartbreak. Kim Culbertson created a character in Jessa who continually thinks she has everything under control, while really cracking under the surface. Jessa displays real emotions and gets some deep thoughts as she tries to work through her heartache and make sense of everything that has suddenly fallen apart.

There are some pretty funny parts in this story, and even some dramatic ones (it is the Drama Club, after all :) ). The characters are interesting, and they each have distinct personalities, aided by their talents within the Drama Club. I like Jessa's character a lot. She reminds me of people I know who are very into theater and musicals and such, and it was fun to see parts of their personalities on the page.

There were a couple downsides, like the many instances where students on the trip got in trouble without any real consequences. This wasn't such a huge part in the story, it was more annoying since I kept expecting some sort of fallout or reprimand to come from each instance that never came.

The letters in the care package Carissa sends with Jessa are funny, serious, and surprisingly thoughtful. With them, the story took a different turn than I originally expected, but it was nice to be surprised, and I really liked how it ended (even though I NEED to know more!!). Overall, I found Instructions For a Broken Heart to be a fun, quick read about the complexities of life and love, and what it means to be in a relationship. I definitely recommend it.

Read this if:
...you like theater or musicals, you have ever had a broken heart, and you believe that there is more to love than only affection.

Content Warning
*This section may contain some spoilers about content!*
Highlight between the brackets to reveal the text.
{Some talk about making out (not very detailed at all), and few swear words.}

Edit: Kim Culbertson's first book, Songs For a Teenage Nomad, which has won many awards is currently available for FREE from Barnes and Noble, and Sourcebooks! Thanks to Books on the Knob for this info!


  1. Oh I will definitely be checking this one out :) Thanks for the review! It sounds very cute and you know... drama club. I'm in drama club (we've never been to ITALY but still.) Great review!

  2. Great review! You mentioned that you need to know more. Is this a series?

  3. The Story Queen: Oh, I hope so! It is such a good read.

    Alexis: It's not a series, but I always find that at the end of stand-alone novels, I want to know what happens next. With this one, the ending was so tantalizing, I NEED to know! :)

  4. Sounds downright delightful! Great review.

  5. I so loved this book too!! I really enjoyed reading it :) The ending made me wish for the book to have a sequel lol! Great review!

  6. Mia: I read your review, and it looks like we had similar thoughts about this one. I agree, it was such a good read! :)


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