Author: Alexander Vance
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publish Date: July 23rd, 2013
“Twelve-year-old Quentin never asked to be "The Heartbreak Messenger," it just kind of happened - and he's not one to let a golden opportunity pass him by. The valuable communications service he offers is simple: he delivers break-up messages. For a small fee, he will deliver such a message to your soon-to-be ex-girlfriend. If you order the deluxe package, he'll even throw in some flowers and a box of chocolates...well, you don't want to leave a girl completely alone.
At first, Quentin's entrepreneurial brainchild is surprisingly successful. But as he interacts with clients and message recipients, from the teary-eyed football player to the dangerously powerful soccer chick, it doesn't take him long to start wondering whether his business will create negative repercussions in how life, especially for his relationship with his long-time best friend Abigail. Quentin discovers the game of love adn the emotions that go with it are as complicated as they come - even for an almost innocent bystander.
This brisk tale, infused with Quentin's strong narrative voice, dry wit, and sometimes over-eager schemes, presents an engaging character that is clueless yet brilliant, sarcastic yet sensitive.”
The Heartbreak Messenger by Alexander Vance took me by surprise. I expected it to be a cute, quick read. What I didn't expect was to stay up much too late because I just couldn't put the book down. I don't usually read middle grade novels, but since this one seemed on the cusp of young adult I gave it a shot, and I'm so glad I did.
One thing that made The Heartbreak Messenger stand out for me was the solid business strategies of thirteen year old Quentin. Seriously. This kid could be one of the sharks on Shark Tank when he's older. He's desperate for cash and is willing to work for it, but not to the point of doing anything illegal. Although his business does push some moral boundaries and he knows it. But what does he care? He's thirteen and raking in dough to help his single mom pay the rent. To heck with moral boundaries. Quentin does feel guilty about breaking people's hearts though, and that's part of what makes him so lovable.
Alexander Vance sort of nails the standard young boy coming of age story. And Quentin's voice is perfection. Sometimes the cutesy cussing (e.g. "kicked my trash" instead of... well, you know) seemed a little forced, but it fit perfectly with the characters personalities, so I'm not complaining. I'd even go as far as to say this reminded me a little of Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen, one of my all time favorite coming of age stories. It had the same innocence that Flipped had, and the same agelessness. The story takes place in the present, but it could have easily taken place in any decade.
The Heartbreak Messenger is great for younger readers, with its lovable, yet clueless narrator and the way he transitions from being—in his words—"too young" to think about girls as anything but best friends to maybe, possibly, seeing them as something more. And it's great for adult readers, too. It had me smiling the whole way through. And occasionally rolling my eyes at how little Quentin understood about girls.
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