cover image Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

Niki Burnham, Lynda Sandoval, Ellen Hopkins. Graphia Books, $8.99 (300pp) ISBN 978-0-547-01499-9

Although-or perhaps because-these four stories about love gone wrong bear little resemblance to real-life heartbreak, they are likely to go over big with teens in search of solace for their own romantic misadventures. Burnham's protagonist, the lone male narrator, lets readers know right away that he's no ""scumbag who only wants you-know-what from a girl""; when he gets pressured by his girlfriend on their one-year anniversary to have sex, he's not ready, and his refusal triggers a breakup. The reversal of typical gender roles could be amusing, except that the author wraps up the story with the tidy entrance of a girl who values the narrator's personality. The other stories send similar messages of empowerment, as in Ellen Hopkins's verse entry about a plain girl whose first boyfriend engineers a makeover, dumps her when she refuses to have sex, then lets her know she was a ""practice"" girlfriend; she recovers enough to tip off the next girl he approaches. And how many gay girls publicly humiliated by their girlfriends find an ally in the high school football captain, like Lynda Sandoval's heroine? Even so, readers will enjoy the stylish scenarios, projecting themselves into situations they can only wish were true. Ages 14-up.