cover image The Heartbreak Messenger

The Heartbreak Messenger

Alexander Vance. Feiwel and Friends, $16.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-250-02969-0

After seventh-grader Quentin accepts $20 to deliver a breakup message for a friend’s older brother, a new business is born: he becomes the “Heartbreak Messenger,” hired to perform breakups for the weak-willed. Quentin believes his single mother, an auto mechanic, is struggling to pay their bills, so there’s an altruistic side to his entrepreneurship, but he also enjoys the power the job gives him. Problems arise, including bad reactions from the recipients of his services, as well as the friction created as Quentin lies to his close friend Abby about his secret profession. His complicated feelings for Abby don’t help, especially after she starts dating another boy. The laughs are plentiful in Vance’s debut, between Quentin’s wry voice and the awkward situations the author creates (like when Quentin gets decked by a girl after delivering the bad news); Quentin’s communicative, protective relationship with his mother is another high point. The lessons Quentin learns about love, compassion, and himself can be slightly heavy-handed, but overall it’s an entertaining and funny read with a clever conceit. Ages 10–13. Agent: Jennifer Weltz, Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency. (July)