Study Guide

Why We Broke Up

Why We Broke Up Summary

As you may have gleaned from the title, the story of Min and Ed doesn't exactly end well. The short answer to why they broke up is that Ed's a liar and a cheat, but the scene of his betrayal really only occupies a few pages at the end. The bulk of the book takes a close look at the love story that unfolded first.

What we learn is that, though their romance was short-lived, it was anything but simple. In reading Min's private musings—the book is structured as a long letter she's writing to Ed—we're made privy to the complex web of insecurities, outside circumstances, and conflicted feelings that were all contributing factors to their split.

The three main characters, Min, Ed, and Al, don't quite form a love triangle, but suffice it to say that romantic feelings are flying around fast and furiously in this book. Why We Broke Up is not just a love story that ends with a breakup; it's also a portrait of a deep friendship that might eventually turn into something more.

See, Min and Al, who've been best friends for years, are torn apart during Min's short-lived relationship with Ed. It's partly Min's fault; caught up in the excitement of having a new boyfriend, she's negligent toward her friends. Al shares the blame, though, because he thinks of Min that way and broods about it privately instead of fessing up. Eventually, Al tells her how he feels, but by this time, Min's deeply in love with Ed.

Not for long, though. Ed's been screwing around with one of his exes. This betrayal is so egregious that even Min knows it's time to throw in the towel. She dumps Ed, but it takes some time for her to process what has happened. She finally finds closure in writing the longest letter in the history of breakups. Having finished that task, she seems ready to contemplate what she might maybe have with Al. The book ends on a hopeful, if not quite happy, note.

  • Chapter 1

    • Min Green is writing a letter to her ex-boyfriend, Ed Slaterton. And like younger siblings pawing through their older sibling's things, we're about to read it.
    • Min begins her letter by imagining the scene at Ed's house. There's about to be a loud noise at the front door (more on that in a second), but Ed won't hear it because he's off moping. Or so Min hopes.
    • It's a nice sunny day in December, Min says. It's been a few weeks since the breakup, and she's had some time to think. Her mind feels clear like the weather, because symbolism. She and Ed went out for five weeks during the rainy season—and yes, that's symbolism, too.
    • In case it wasn't clear from the title, Min is writing to explain why she and Ed broke up. She's cussing, too, so she might be a little bit mad.
  • Chapter 2

    • Remember that loud noise at the front door? Turns out it's a cardboard box filled with scraps and souvenirs from Ed and Min's relationship—Min's about to dump it on Ed's doorstep. The word dump is not coincidental.
    • Min finds a certain satisfaction in dumping the box (and Ed). In fact, Min's feeling like an enigmatic French assassin in one of her favorite films. The assassin only smiles when she's destroying stuff.
    • You know who hasn't seen that fancy foreign film? Ed. Well, of course he hasn't.
  • Chapter 3

    • Min has written a pithy quote on the lid of her breakup box: "You either have the feeling or you don't." Saucy.
    • Min is on her way to Ed's house. In the driver's seat: Al, who is taking her as a favor. They had an awkward phone conversation about it and everything.
    • Min seems conflicted about the errand—and about having Al drive her—but it feels like the right thing to do. Probably. Anyway, she's doing it.
    • She mentions the scene of her original meeting with Ed: Al's Bitter Sixteen party. Al is a good person, the kind who makes elaborate meals for guests at his own birthday party. Ed is… not.
  • Chapter 4

    • Time to dig in to the breakup box. First up: two bottle caps for bitter ale that Min and Ed drank at Al's Bitter Sixteen party.
    • Flashback to the party. Min arrived early to give Al a birthday present. It's a necktie that's exactly like the one someone wore in a foreign film (Al's favorite); presumably, Ed hasn't seen it.
    • Min tries to help Al with the tie and makes a weird comment about how the ladies are going to love it. She smoothes his hair and he offers her a cardigan. They're best friends, but they act like an old married couple.
    • Time to party. Min is looking for love… for Al. Instead, though, she finds Ed, who looks like a Greek god.
    • Ed is walking through the party in slow motion. Everyone's high-fiving him and admiring his muscles, and Min follows him from room to room, mesmerized.
    • Ed and Min are in the yard watching his friend (who's drunk) puke in the bushes. It's super romantic.
    • No, really, it is. They drink the aforementioned bitter ale and flirt.
    • As they part, Ed asks Min for her number. Her friends freak out. Al seems disturbed. Wonder why?
    • Min tries to act nonchalant as she helps her friends clean up, but her heart is racing. She keeps the bottle caps, not yet knowing they're destined for the breakup box.
  • Chapter 5

    • Breakup box item number two: a movie ticket from Ed and Min's first date. Flashback to Min pacing outside the theater, wondering if Ed will even show up.
    • Here's Ed—still looking like a Greek god, though thankfully he has left his puking friend at home.
    • They make small talk. Ed has only been to this movie theater twice—once on a field trip, and once with his dad. Min is here every week, though. Voluntarily. For fun.
    • They're watching an old movie starring Lottie Carson, an actress who Min is obsessed with. Not so obsessed, however, to prevent her from totally making out with Ed through half the movie. Priorities, yo.
    • They leave the theater and try to decide what comes next. Min suggests they grab something to eat, but then she has an idea for an adventure, as yet unnamed.
  • Chapter 6

    • Back in the movie theater, there was an old woman with a beautiful hat who sat in the back row. Min has decided this woman is Lottie Carson, the actress. Just go with it.
    • Min tells Ed her theory, but he's skeptical.
    • Ed goes back into the theater and steals a vintage poster for the movie. (You guessed it: breakup box item number three). They look at the Lottie poster, and look at the old lady. Is she the same person? Min thinks so.
    • Min and Ed decide they'll tail "Lottie Carson" down the street, like private detectives—or creeps, if you're feeling less charitable. Off they go.
  • Chapter 7

    • Here we have a matchbox, another item in the breakup box. It used to have matches in it, but now it's empty—like Min's heart.
    • Min explains that she likes to light matches when she hangs out on the roof of her house late at night. She burned some of them the night after her first date with Ed, going over the "scenes" from that day as though it were a movie.
    • Flashback to Min and Ed following "Lottie Carson." She has stopped for a bite at a fancy Russian restaurant.
    • The young couple decides to wait a few minutes before going into the restaurant. They bicker because Ed's good at math. Ed is embarrassed about being smart because it's "gay," but Min thinks he should be embarrassed about his homophobia.
    • They enter the restaurant and realize it's too expensive. As they walk back out, Ed grabs a matchbox because he's classy like that.
    • The chapter closes with Min remembering the times she burned the rest of the matches: after she lost her virginity (spoiler alert) and after the breakup itself. She talks about wanting to burn down the world. So yeah, she's definitely still mad.
  • Chapter 8

    • Min and Ed are hanging out across the street from the Russian restaurant, waiting for the old lady to emerge. They're shopping at A-Post Novelties, a store full of junk gifts.
    • Ed romantically declares that Min is not like the other girls he knows—she likes "gay" movies and doesn't care about basketball. Min is deeply unimpressed.
    • They discuss Ed's basketball game on Friday. Min says if she goes that it would be a date, but Ed takes it a step further, and says she'd be his girlfriend. Whoa…
    • As they browse, they discuss their life ambitions: Min wants to direct arty films, while Ed wants to… win state finals. Way to dream big, Ed.
    • Feeling pressed by the shopkeeper to make a purchase, Ed buys Min a pinhole camera. Along the way, he makes fun of French films, puts down Al, and flirts with the shopkeeper. Now, post-breakup, Min can see that he was being a jerk; in the moment, though, she thought it was charming.
  • Chapter 9

    • "Lottie Carson" is finally leaving the Russian restaurant. Ed and Min use the pinhole camera to take photos of her. Or at least they try to.
    • In fact, the next item in the breakup box is a roll of film, undeveloped.
    • Ed and Min continue to follow "Lottie" to her home, where they search her mailbox for clues to her identity. No dice.
    • The teenagers travel back home, and part at the bus stop. Min goes home and calls Al, waking him up; she says she'll tell him about the first date tomorrow.
  • Chapter 10

    • The next treasure in the breakup box is an elaborately folded note that Ed left in Min's locker. The message says I can't stop thinking about you.
    • Post-breakup, Min is going to read the note one last time. She can't stop thinking about Ed, either, even now.
  • Chapter 11

    • Next up: a torn Halloween poster. Min can't even pull the poster out of the breakup box as she writes, because it's still a sensitive subject with Al. (Remember, Min is writing the letter as Al drives her to drop off the breakup box.)
    • Flashback to Al taping up posters in the morning before school. Jordan and Lauren are helping, but Min has arrived late and is in a rush to copy someone's homework.
    • Al reminds Min that she promised to help with the posters. She tries to get out of it, but Al is persuasive.
    • The friends pair off, and Lauren and Jordan leave Min and Al to their "sexual tension festival." Hmmm…
    • As they tape posters, Al asks Min how things are going with Ed. Ed walks up in the middle of the conversation, though—awkward.
    • Having already made plans with Al to get coffee after school, Min tells Ed she won't be attending his basketball practice.
    • Ed rips down the Halloween poster to write down his phone number for Min. Yeah, the poster she and Al had just taped up. Seriously, Ed is the worst.
    • Min is horrified, but she doesn't say anything. Instead she reflects, poetically and at length, on the tedium of school.
    • Now Min is remembering the first time she called Ed. His sister answered and Min was too shy to introduce herself.
    • This became a ritual with Ed and Min, the evening phone calls, and she remembers them fondly. Night was a magical time when the relationship was easy—unlike during the day at school, when it felt like they were living in two different worlds.
  • Chapter 12

    • Somewhere deep in the breakup box is a coin of unknown origin. Min reminds Ed that this is a token of an afternoon they spent at Cheese Parlor.
    • Flashback to Cheese Parlor: Ed is about to meet Min's friends. This should be good…
    • Min is sitting with Jordan, Lauren, and Al, waiting for Ed to arrive; she begs her friends to be on their best behavior.
    • Ed has arrived, but Min's friends are not on their best behavior. In fact, they're somewhat hostile.
    • Ed remembers the Cheese Parlor has a jukebox, and he paws through Lauren's purse for change. Everyone at the table looks on in horror, including Min.
    • Ed's at the jukebox; Min is making excuses for him; no one's buying it.
    • And Ed's back at the table. He chose a dumb song and Min is embarrassed.
    • Ed puts the coin on the table and observes that it didn't work in the jukebox. (You know what else didn't work? His relationship with Min.) No one is surprised.
  • Chapter 13

    • Min introduces the next item from the breakup box: a rubber band that Ed ripped out of her hair. Behold this treasure.
    • Flashback to Min traveling with Ed to his house after basketball practice. She's tired. She hasn't been drinking coffee after school with her friends, like usual—instead, she's become a full-fledged "basketball widow."
    • They arrive at Ed's house, and he hits the shower, while Min hangs out in the kitchen with his older sister, Joan.
    • Joan is cooking vegetarian food and listening to Hawk Davies. Remember Hawk? His quote is on the lid on the breakup box: You either have the feeling or you don't.
    • Turns out Hawk Davies is a jazz musician. Min has never heard him before, but she likes him instantly.
    • Min tells Joan that she wants to be a film director. Joan seems jealous—she was a film major in college, but she had to switch majors because her mother got sick. Ed never mentioned his mother's illness to Min.
    • Min offers to help Joan cook. Joan gives her a rubber band—the rubber band—to put her hair up. They cook. Min seems to have passed the test: Joan likes her.
    • Ed comes in and yanks the rubber band out of Min's hair. He likes her hair better down. Yikes.
    • Ed and Joan joke around about how she's not his "real mom." Their real mom, the mysterious sick one, is behind a closed door somewhere down the hall.
    • Min and Joan finish up the meatballs, and they are delicious.
    • Min goes home and calls Al. He's excited about the meatball recipe and wonders if Min would like to make them this weekend. Min says she's too busy being a basketball widow, though.
  • Chapter 14

    • Now Min's writing to Ed about a pennant—a Hellman High School Beavers pennant, to be exact. She never hung it over her bed like most girlfriends would.
    • You know what is hanging over Min's bed? A poster that Al gave her. That's right.
    • Ed left the pennant in Min's locker. It's a girlfriend-boyfriend thing, so now the whole school knows that Min is dating the co-captain of the basketball team.
    • Ed also left a ticket to the game in Min's locker. Min goes to the game and sits with Joan. Neither of them cares about basketball; they're just there to watch Ed.
    • Ed comes out onto the court. He's makes a layup and points at Min. He is a caricature of a jock, and Min loves it.
    • Min tries to make a "real mom" joke with Joan, but it doesn't go over well.
    • Min feels like a fish out of water in the audience; she wishes she were drinking coffee instead.
    • The Hellman High School Beavers win the game, and everyone is thrilled except for Min, who couldn't care less. She feels obliged to go to the post-game party, but she isn't looking forward to it.
  • Chapter 15

    • Within the breakup box, there is a toy truck. Min is riding in a real truck, with Al, still writing her letter to Ed, while holding the toy truck in her hand.
    • Flashback to the post-game party—it's a bonfire. Min and Ed ride there in someone's car.
    • Ed leaves Min to go find beer. She isn't sure what to do with herself, so, drawn to the fire, she throws in her ticket to the game.
    • Min's revelry is broken by Jillian Beach, Ed's ex-girlfriend. She's with another girl who makes a joke about Min being a virgin. Min jokes right back, holding her own against the mean girls.
    • Jillian's friend, mean girl number two, is Annette. Annette quickly softens and apologizes for Jillian, who is really drunk.
    • And bitter. Jillian and Ed only broke up last week, and Jillian doesn't like that Min came to the party.
    • Jillian leaves and Annette apologizes to Min a second time. She should probably apologize for the rest of the book, that's how rude Jillian was.
    • Min is feeling insecure. Annette makes small talk and Min starts to feel better. It works for a few minutes, until Annette brings up the fact that she, too, is Ed's ex-girlfriend.
    • Whoops, Min had forgotten that Annette and Ed used to go out. She apologizes.
    • Annette says it's no big deal because she and Ed are still good friends.
    • Min gets lost in her thoughts for a minute. She thinks about how weird it is that someday, she will also be Ed's ex-girlfriend. She thinks about her ex-boyfriend, Joe, and how they never talk anymore even though they said they'd stay friends. She also thinks about how she used to think of Ed as a hero, and now he's her boyfriend. Weird.
    • Ed has returned on the arm of drunk Jillian. Oh dear…
    • Annette dutifully drags Jillian away, but not before Jillian insults Min a few more times. It's really uncomfortable.
    • Ed's sorry, and Min's mad—but not for long.
    • Ed has a surprise for Min: It's a toy truck. Yes, the one from the breakup box.
    • He used to lose his own toy trucks when he played here as a child, so now he always looks for them at the bonfires. Only Min could possibly understand this tale of woe.
    • Min's charmed enough to make out with Ed for a while. In the back of her mind, she's willing the bonfire to be over already. She's already looking forward to their plans for tomorrow, a trip to Tip Top Goods.
    • Ed has an idea: He takes Min to Steve's car to fool around.
    • Remembering their time in Steve's car, Min feels conflicted. On one hand, she thinks it was disgusting and clichéd, but on the other, she thinks it was beautiful.
  • Chapter 16

    • In her letter, Min asks Ed if he's ever seen Like Night and Day, a Portuguese vampire movie. It's a rhetorical question, though; she knows he hasn't seen it.
    • Flashback to Min waiting for Ed to pick her up at a coffee shop. It's the crack of dawn on a Saturday, and it's raining cats and dogs. The light reminds Min of the vampire movie.
    • Ed arrives in his sister's car. The plan is to go to Tip Top Goods, which for some reason is only open 7:30AM to 9:00AM on Saturday mornings.
    • Min says she's only been to the shop once before, with Al, and Ed seems jealous. He speculates that Al is gay or wants to be Min's boyfriend.
    • They bicker a little, and Min offers Ed a coffee. He doesn't drink coffee, though. Min is, as you might've guessed, horrified.
    • We're not sure she has any business being horrified by non-coffee drinkers, though, considering how she takes her coffee: three sugars and extra cream. Is that technically coffee, still?
    • Ed's horrified, too, and though he doesn't drink coffee, he still thinks coffee should be taken black. Like his heart.
    • Just in case you'd forgotten that Ed is the worst, he uses the word "fag." Again.
    • They bicker. Min tries to convince Ed to stop being the worst, but Ed says he's just tired. Oh, okay…
    • Finally, Ed acquiesces and tries the "coffee" with three sugars and extra cream. He loves it: "It's like a cookie having sex with a doughnut," are his exact words.
    • Min teases Ed, and he admits that he never knows when she's joking—he just doesn't get her.
    • The couple dashes into Tip Top Goods. It is a palace full of strange treasures. Among them? Real Recipes from Tinseltown, a book that's destined for the breakup box. Back in real time, Min's sad to give it back.
  • Chapter 17

    • Ed and Min leave Tip Top Goods. The storm clouds have parted and the birds are singing; they decide to go to the park.
    • They find a spot and hunker down to admire Real Recipes from Tinseltown, which Ed bought for Min for fifty-five bucks.
    • Ed marvels that he's sitting in a park with Min—his girlfriends tend to prefer games and keg parties.
    • He doesn't get out much, seems like.
    • Ed explains he thought the world was ordinary, but Min makes everything seem magical. It's sweet, actually.
    • Remember "Lottie Carson," the old lady they followed on their first date? Min wants to throw a party for her eighty-ninth birthday, which is on December 5.
    • This is why Min is so excited about the cookbook—she's going to use it to make recipes for the party.
    • On the menu: an igloo made with cubed eggs (?), a recipe inspired by the movie that Ed and Min saw on their first date, and cookies made from a recipe by Lottie Carson herself.
    • The latter should be made with stolen sugar, so the couple decides to go to a nearby diner.
    • But first: the thrift store for an overcoat in which to hide the stolen sugar.
    • Min's talking a mile a minute about the party. Ed interrupts for a second to point out that they don't know the lady they followed is actually Lottie Carson.
    • Min points out that December 5 isn't just Lottie Carson's birthday, though; it will also be her two-month anniversary with Ed.
    • Ed seems mildly alarmed that Min is already thinking about two-month anniversaries. But they brush this aside.
    • It's an hour until the thrift shop opens, so Ed and Min get busy. With each other. Ed and Min take off all their clothes, but they don't go all the way.
    • Later on, at home, Min finds a seedpod from the park on her cardigan. She lovingly puts it away in her drawer, where it will stay until it moves to the breakup box.
  • Chapter 18

    • The breakup box must be pretty big, because it also contains an overcoat that Min bought for Ed at the thrift store.
  • Chapter 19

    • Ed and Min are at the diner, preparing to steal a sugar dispenser that is destined for the breakup box. First, though, they eat breakfast.
    • Min tells Ed that she's a virgin. He seems surprised—he assumed that she had sex with her ex-boyfriend, Joe.
    • Min says she's not sure if she wants to have sex with Ed. He says that's cool, and it seems like he means it.
    • They split the bill. Min feels lighter having had this conversation.
    • She tells Ed to steal the sugar, but he already has.
  • Chapter 20

    • The young couple has returned to Ed's house, where Joan is cooking in the kitchen.
    • Ed goes to take a shower, leaving Min and Joan to talk.
    • Joan is assembling an impressive-sounding dish with onion rings, vermicelli, basil, and tofu. Min tells her about the plan for Lottie Carson's birthday party.
    • Joan seems vaguely impressed by both Min's love for film and Ed's willingness to go along with such a wild plan. It's unlike him.
    • The air in the kitchen is thick with innuendo. Joan is trying to convey something to Min… but what? Min feels uneasy.
    • Joan mentions that Ed has a "family thing," strongly hinting that it's time for Min to go.
    • Feeling uncomfortable, Min scoots upstairs to say goodbye to Ed.
    • But he's asleep on his bed. In fact, he's snoring.
    • Min ignores the urge to join him and goes back downstairs. Joan lends her a book, and they grab Min's cardigan from the car, then Min sets off for home, feeling lonely.
    • On the bus, Min realizes that she accidentally left with the tea towel Joan used to soak up oil from the onion rings. She squirrels it away until it gets tossed with the rest of the stuff in the breakup box.
  • Chapter 21

    • There is not an umbrella in the breakup box, but only because Min lost it.
    • She regrets losing the umbrella. She regrets a lot of things, in fact.
    • This isn't really about the umbrella, is it, Min?
  • Chapter 22

    • Min lets Ed (and us) in on a little secret: The reason this letter is so long is because she and Al stopped at their favorite coffee place. Min loves the espresso there so much that she drinks it black, without three sugars and extra cream.
    • Min has lugged the breakup box into the coffee shop to continue working on the letter. Up next: a bottle of Pensieri, an obscure liquor.
    • Flashback to the afternoon after Min left Joan and Ed to their "family thing." Min showers and calls Al.
    • Min begs Al to watch movies later, but Al is annoyed because Min has blown him off before, and now she just assumes he's not doing anything on a Saturday night.
    • Well, to be fair, Al doesn't have anything to do. Still, it's the principle of the matter.
    • They agree to watch a movie. Min goes over to Al's, where he has some snacks waiting. And by snacks, we mean polenta, lamb chops, and asparagus. Hey, Al—call us sometime, okay?
    • Al sets about making fizzy Italian lemonade with mint. Did we mention Al is perfect?
    • Al asks Min about Ed, but while Min wants to tell him everything, she holds back. For the moment, anyway.
    • They grab their plates and start the movie. The movie's bad, though, and Al and Min argue about whether or not to turn it off. They're acting like an old married couple again.
    • Now they're cleaning up the mess from dinner. Min decides she's going to ask Al about sex, and Al says he needs a beer—he seems stressed out.
    • Min admits she's thinking about having sex with Ed. She's worried about what people will think, though.
    • Al evades Min's questions. He says he has no opinion about the matter, but he clearly thinks it's too soon.
    • Min says she's in love with Ed, and then spills her plans about the birthday party for Lottie Carson.
    • Al is much more enthusiastic about the party than he is about Min having sex with Ed.
    • Min says the party is on the day of her two-month anniversary with Ed, and Al advises her not to share this info with Ed. Of course, Min already has.
    • Min tells Al he's her only hope for the Pensieri, the weird liquor for the cookie recipe. They decide to go pick some up at the shop that Al's dad owns.
    • At the shop, Al asks Min why they've never talked about sex before. He confesses that he thought her last boyfriend was a jerk.
    • Min had no idea that Al didn't like her ex. At the time, Al said he had no opinion—and he's been saying the same thing about Ed lately. Hmm… do you think Al doesn't like Ed?
    • Min and Al get have a blowout argument at the shop. It's very dramatic, and Min winds up stomping off and taking the bus home.
    • The next morning, Ed calls Min and asks her to come over.
    • When she arrives at his place, he seems agitated.
    • Turns out he's really mad at Joan for sending Min home the day before. Joan told Ed that he is moving too fast with Min.
    • Ed doesn't care what Joan thinks, though, or what anyone thinks because he's in L-O-V-E.
    • That's right: Ed confesses his love to Min. She says she loves him back, and they kiss for a while.
    • They take a break from kissing after falling off the couch. Min wants to try the Pensieri.
    • The Pensieri is gross, so Ed spits it all over his clothes, which he promptly takes off.
    • The kissing break is over, it seems, as Min rips off her shirt, too.
    • Min wears Ed's thrift store coat home to hide the ripped shirt. She puts the bottle of Pensieri in her pocket.
  • Chapter 23

    • Ed and Min are having another party planning session at Bluebeard Gardens. Min's eating pistachios from a tin—this tin is the latest exhibit from the breakup box.
    • The party's really shaping up, and the spot seems perfect. It was Ed's idea. He used to have secret rendezvous with one of his exes here.
    • Ed marvels that Min doesn't seem jealous when he talks about ex-girlfriends; for the thousandth time, he says she's not like other girls.
    • After a little more party planning, they head back to school. They've been cutting class, but Min has to get back for a test.
    • Uh-oh… Min's fifteen minutes late for the test. Tsk tsk.
  • Chapter 24

    • Here's an item from the breakup box that Min doesn't mind giving up: a ticket stub from Goofballs III, a movie that was Ed's pick.
    • Min doesn't really remember seeing the movie because she was distracted.
    • Flashback to Ed and Min in the movie theater: Right before the movie starts, Ed tells Min to remind him to tell her something later.
    • What does he need to tell her? Min's really curious. Ed says there's something "unavoidable" coming up that they should talk about.
    • Min thinks the "unavoidable" thing he's talking about is them having sex; she fumes through the entire movie.
    • Back in real time, in the coffee shop, Al is horrified to learn that Min went to see Goofballs III.
  • Chapter 25

    • Goofballs III has ended, and Ed and Min are at a diner. Min tells him she thought the "unavoidable" thing was her losing her virginity, and Ed thinks she's insane.
    • Because, as you may have guessed, this is not what Ed was referring to. He was actually talking about their Halloween plans.
    • Turns out there are always two big Halloween gatherings: One is on the Hellman High School football field—that one is Ed's—and the other is for arty people and drama nerds. That one is Min's.
    • Ed and Min feel obligated to go to their respective parties, though Min says both parties are awful.
    • Ed says he and the basketball team have picked out their group costumes: a chain gang. Min is unimpressed.
    • Ed pulls a protractor (remember, he's a math nerd) and a pen out of his back pocket, and he starts sketching out a plan on some napkins. He draws the locations of both parties on the napkin map.
    • They plot their route, ultimately deciding to take a bus. They'll make a brief pit stop for coffee, then cut through the cemetery to get to the second party.
    • Evidently the cemetery is a spot where gay men cruise. Min jokes that Al hangs out there all the time—she feels badly about making the joke, but the point is she makes it.
    • Ed mentions that his sister is going to be out of town in a few weekends, so he'll have the house to himself. And you know what that means: bow-chicka-wow-wow.
    • Min says she doesn't want to lose her virginity in Ed's bed; it seems too pedestrian. She wants to be somewhere "extraordinary."
    • After a little more back and forth, Min gives him a maybe. She wants to think it over.
    • Ed starts to crumple the map he's drawn, but Min wants to keep it.
    • Back in real time, she sees that Ed wrote a secret message on the napkin: I love you Min Green.
  • Chapter 26

    • Min also stole the protractor that Ed used to make the map. Now it's in the breakup box, waiting to be returned.
  • Chapter 27

    • Min's at the hardware store by herself. Or she was, anyway—remember, this is another flashback. In real time, Min's in the coffee shop with Al, writing the letter we're reading.
    • Min is studying a metal file, wishing Al were with her so she could ask him some questions about it, such as: Is the file oven-safe?
    • Min bumps into Annette, Ed's ex-girlfriend, who is Halloween shopping, just like Min.
    • Annette is examining some chains, wondering if they'd work for her medieval costume. She wonders aloud if she could wear the chains as a tube top, without a bra. Min is horrified.
    • Min's Halloween costume is confusing. Remember Ed's chain gang costume? Since he's going to be a prisoner, Min's thinking about baking the file into a cake for his escape.
    • Annette doesn't get it. Fair enough.
    • Min backtracks and says she's going to go as a prison warden—she's not into sexy costumes, she says.
    • Annette says that Min is beautiful and that everyone's jealous of her. Clarification: jealous of Min's relationship with Ed. Annette is joking/not joking.
    • Min and Annette make their respective purchases at the hardware store, and leave. Annette asks Min if she wants to go for a juice, but Min wants to go home and work on her costume.
    • In a vulnerable moment in the parking lot, Min admits that she feels insecure about her relationship with Ed; she worries another girl will steal him away.
    • Annette brushes off Min's concern and they go their separate ways.
  • Chapter 28

    • Another item for the breakup box: Min's ticket to the Halloween party. Sometime before in the week before the party, Al put it in an envelope and taped it to Min's locker. At the time, they were still giving each other the silent treatment.
    • The "ticket" is actually a token, which Min says that losers wear around their neck all year.
  • Chapter 29

    • Flashback to Halloween. Min wakes up early to go to Tip Top Goods, where she buys two old-fashioned keys.
    • Min goes home to spray-paint a cap to match her father's coat, which is part of her costume.
    • Min's mom brings her some tea and makes a joke about Min's dad. Evidently, they're divorced.
    • Min's mom wants to meet Ed. She seems suspicious of him, somehow; she knows he runs in a different social circle.
    • Min wants her mom to stay out of her business. Still, she indulges her mom a little: Min shows her mom the keys and explains that she plans to give them to Ed at the end of the night.
    • Min's mom thinks the giving of the keys is just a symbol for sex. And you know? She's not wrong, exactly. Min is super annoyed.
    • Later that evening, Min arrives at the first Halloween party. She's in Ed's territory, and everyone is awful.
    • To wit: Min is greeted by Jillian, who is drunk and scandalized because she thinks Min's wearing a Hitler costume.
    • Ed hasn't arrived yet, so Min talks to his friend, Trevor. Trevor recently broke his foot, so he's not participating in the group costume.
    • Trevor knows a lot about Min. Ed told him about the trip to Tip Top Goods, Lottie Carson's birthday party, and the fact that Min doesn't like beer. Ed tells him everything, you see.
    • Speaking of Ed, he's finally arrived and he's jealous to see Min laughing with Trevor. Yay.
    • Trevor makes a crack about how Min's a virgin. Wow—Ed really does tell him everything.
    • Min is furious, but Ed can't chase after her because he's chained to the rest of the basketball team.
    • If the party hadn't already been a living nightmare for Min, it was now. She stumbles around, angry and disoriented.
    • Ed and the rest of his chain gang get up on a stage and perform some sort of dance. Afterward, he vanishes for another thirty-eight minutes. Not that Min's counting or anything…
    • Finally, Ed finds Min in the crowd. He apologizes twenty-six times, one apology for each day they've been together. Aw…
    • Min's still mad, but she's moved by Ed's apologies, and now she's crying. She did not want to cry, but it is what it is.
    • She tells Ed that he can start to make it up to her by leaving the party to get coffee. They go to the coffee shop and Ed buys a round of coffee for all the patrons. Okay, so there's just one other guy in the shop, but still.
    • Ed goes in the bathroom and finds a tag for a concert that's being held the next afternoon. (This tag is the next item in the breakup box.) It's the guy who drums for Hawk Davies. He begs Min to go with him, and she says yes. They leave the coffee shop and make their way to Halloween party number two.
    • As they take a shortcut through the cemetery, Ed mentions that he almost suggested it as the setting for Lottie Carson's birthday party, but decided it would be too morbid on account of Carson's age.
    • Now the couple has arrived at the party. Ed makes a dash for the bathroom, while Min heads to the cloakroom, where she runs into her ex-boyfriend, Joe.
    • Joe asks Min about her costume—he also thinks she looks like Hitler—and they drink spiked punch.
    • Joe asks Min how things are going with Ed. They proceed to have an awkward conversation about dating.
    • Joe asks Min to dance, and while she realizes he's drunk, she doesn't care. Why not dance?
    • They're on the dance floor, and Min's unbuttoning her costume to reveal her bra. The dancing is super erotic.
    • Is Min just having fun, or is she doing this out of revenge? Maybe a little of both.
    • The song ends and Min leaves the dance floor without looking back; then she kisses Ed, and they leave the party together.
  • Chapter 30

    • It's the day after Halloween, and Min and Ed are hung-over. They're at the Blue Rhino for the concert.
    • Ed orders sparkling water. Min remembers how magical it was—in fact, the whole afternoon was magical, like a dream.
    • The jazz band plays, and when they stop, Min snatches the water bottle and puts it in her coat pocket. Eventually, of course, it will make its way to the breakup box.
    • As they leave, Min tells Ed that she wants to give him her keys, by which she means her virginity.
    • Ed seems pleased. He has an extraordinary place in mind, just like Min wanted.
  • Chapter 31

    • Min wonders what Ed did with the egg cubers. Flashback to the day they bought seven of them at Vintage Kitchen and take them back to Ed's house.
    • Ed showers; Joan leaves; Ed comes downstairs in just a towel and has one last "everything but" session with Min.
    • Min goes home. She dumps her neglected homework on the bed and calls Lauren for the first time in ages.
    • Lauren ribs Min about Ed and asks when she's going to make up with Al.
    • Min finally reveals that her call has an agenda: She wants Lauren to invite her to sleep over on Saturday.
    • It's a ruse, though. Min won't actually sleep at Lauren's—she's going to be with Ed.
    • Lauren seems concerned, but she reluctantly agrees.
  • Chapter 32

    • In the coffee shop with Al, Min's pen is running low on ink. She perseveres.
    • Flashback to the day she and Ed made the egg igloo: They're getting off the bus and buying ingredients.
    • Min, on behalf of her mother, invites Ed and his family over for Thanksgiving; he says maybe.
    • As they assemble the igloo in Ed's kitchen, Min finds herself feeling blue, though she's not sure why.
    • They use the egg cubers to assemble the egg igloo. It is perfect and weird at once.
    • Joan comes home. She's impressed by the igloo, and takes an instant picture for posterity.
    • While Joan's off fetching the camera, Ed apologizes for their weird afternoon. He tells Min it's fine if she changes her mind about having sex—but Min is feeling sure.
    • Joan comes back and takes the photo. As Min leaves, Joan hands it to her, "in case it doesn't work out the next time."
  • Chapter 33

    • The next item in the breakup box is a "save the planet" hanger from the towel rack of Dawn's Early Lite Lounge and Motel. This is the extraordinary place Ed chose for his first time with Min.
    • Flashback to Ed and Min checking into the motel: It's a little run down—the ice machine is broken, and the television doesn't work.
    • Ed has brought a movie and strawberries, though. So, um, we guess he's thought of everything.
  • Chapter 34

    • The next item in the breakup box is a condom wrapper. Pretty self-explanatory, that one. Min and Ed have sex, and she's surprised to find it's not as difficult as she had thought.
  • Chapter 35

    • Ed and Min have sex again, and Min jokes about it being like "putting a whole grapefruit in your mouth." They laugh.
  • Chapter 36

    • Ed and Min are starving, so they order pizza.
    • Min hides in the bathroom when the pizza guy comes, though, fixing her hair with a little plastic comb that will eventually make its way into the breakup box.
    • Min overhears Ed joking with the pizza guy. It makes her nauseous.
  • Chapter 37

    • Min's eating pizza in the motel room. She gets sauce on her shirt, so Ed gives her one of his to wear.
    • The t-shirt is now in the breakup box, of course.
    • Min remembers wearing the shirt for many days after the night in the motel. She felt really sentimental about it.
  • Chapter 38

    • Finally, we've reached an item that Min doesn't mind giving back: a pair of dangly heart earrings, a gift from Ed that she never really liked. Into the breakup box they go—good riddance.
    • Ed left the earrings in Min's locker the Monday after their motel night. Min says she's not going to even think about who helped him choose this gift. We're thinking about it, though; she's not the boss of us.
  • Chapter 39

    • It's morning, and Min's so distracted that she forgets to enter school "the new way" (39.2). She runs into Al and Lauren, and notes that her own place on their usual bench is empty.
    • Al gives her a gift: a bundle of postcards to use as invitations for Lottie Carson's party. They were never used of course, so Min puts them in the breakup box.
    • This is the first time that Al and Min have spoken in a while; it's a little bit awkward.
    • Min mentions Ed right away—but when Al starts to say something, Min says she doesn't want to discuss her boyfriend.
    • Al says this isn't really about Ed. It's about him. He's jealous.
    • Min has no idea what he's talking about, but we do: Al's in love with Min. Duh.
    • The confessions continue. Al never really had a girlfriend in Los Angeles; that was a story he concocted to make Min jealous. The plan didn't work, though.
    • Min wants to know why he never said anything, but Al wonders if it would have mattered.
    • Min thinks it probably would have mattered, not that she's going to admit this to Al or anything. His timing is terrible. She's in love with Ed, and there's not room in her head or her heart to think about how she feels about Al.
    • Al doesn't expect Min to respond to his big reveal—he understands she has other stuff going on—but he hopes they can stop fighting.
    • Min is so flabbergasted that she doesn't really know what to say. They part, not having quite made up.
  • Chapter 40

    • Some of the last items in the breakup box are rose petals.
    • Min says that Lauren told her she thinks Ed wanted his treachery to be discovered, and that's how he and Min ended up at the flower shop. A-ha! So we're finally going to find out what the heck happened.
    • Flashback to Min and Ed walking out of his basketball practice: Ed wants coffee, and Min wants to stop by Willows, the florist, to buy flowers for Lottie Carson.
    • Ed doesn't want to go to Willows—like, really doesn't want to go—and he tries to talk Min out of it. But she's made up her mind, and she drags Ed down the street.
    • They look around the flower shop. The proprietor, Ambrose, greets Min with, "You must be Annette."
    • Slowly, it dawns on Min that she is not, in fact, Annette… So why does Ambrose keep bringing her up?
    • The florist knows exactly what they're there for: the red roses Ed bought for Annette. Min, no longer able to ignore the obvious, rips open the card: I can't stop thinking about you. "You" being Annette, of course. Ouch.
    • Min is mad and getting even madder. Ed tries to claim they never said they were exclusive, but Min's not buying it, not for one second.
    • Ed admits that he and Annette hang out all the time—and by "hang out," he pretty much means they've been having sex.
    • Min finally understands Joan's weird evasive behavior: Joan knew Ed was cheating and she didn't approve.
    • Min totally loses her mind. She screams at Ed, and then she notices something: an obituary for Lottie Carson (the real one), who has been dead for a while. (Note: The obituary isn't discussed explicitly until the end of the chapter, when we see that Min has included it in the breakup box.)
    • Min rips the obituary off the wall and runs out into the street. Ed follows.
    • She confronts Ed about the obituary. How could he have known that Lottie Carson was dead this whole time they'd been planning her birthday party? Somehow this betrayal is as bad as, if not worse than, the cheating.
    • Ed can't explain. He knew—and he didn't know—both at once.
    • Min runs away, and Ed doesn't follow. She runs into Jillian, who for once does not seem to be drunk. Jillian understands what has happened without Min saying a word; she gives Min a ride to the coffee shop where Al is hanging out.
    • Min reflects on all the ways in which she isn't different and arty, like everyone seems to think. She compiles a long inventory of her faults and deficiencies, painting herself in a really unflattering light.
  • Chapter 41

    • Here's an unused ticket to one of Ed's basketball games. Loyal friends that they are, Al and Lauren didn't let Min attend, even though she wanted to.
    • Al's whipping up another gourmet dinner as Min tells him and Lauren about the breakup box. Lauren's appalled and thinks she should dump it on Ed's doorstep immediately, but Al understands that Min needs time and space to process.
    • Min's sad and venting, but her friends are there for her. There's a feeling that Min is back where she belongs.
  • Chapter 42

    • Somehow there's still room in the breakup box for another big book, the history of film that Min borrowed from Joan. Like the TARDIS, the box must be bigger on the inside.
  • Chapter 43

    • We've finally reached the bottom of the breakup box. The last item for our consideration is a jar of chestnuts that Ed once told Min was an essential Thanksgiving ingredient. The illustration shows us that the chestnuts are Minerve brand. (Hmm… Minerve is only one letter away from Minerva, Min's full name.) Apparently, these chestnuts are rare and hard to find.
    • Min purchased the chestnuts in preparation for the Thanksgiving dinner she and Ed never had. Now she and Al are going to re-appropriate the chestnuts as part of an appetizer for an elegant supper they're planning for New Year's.
    • The supper they're planning isn't in honor of anything; it's not a pipe dream, like the birthday for Lottie Carson.
    • Min says that she's "sorry to hear about Annette" (43.10), from which we infer that Ed and Annette are no longer a thing.
    • But you know who might be a thing? Min and Al. It hasn't happened yet, but with Min's mention of a "love interest that sneaks upon you" (43.10), the book ends on a note of possibility.