The Heartbreak Messenger by Alexander Vance (2013)


A funny story about the dangers of messing around with people’s hearts.

Recommended grade level: 4-7

Pages: 304 (for ISBN 9781250044167)

Genre(s) and keywords: humor, realistic fiction

Tone/Style: humorous, self-deprecating

Pace: moderate to fast

Topics: dating, businesses

Themes: heartbreak, bystanders

Summary: Quentin never asked to be the Heartbreak Messenger, it just kind of happened. The valuable communication service he offers is simple: he delivers break-up messages. For a small fee, he will deliver that 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. You know, to soften the blow…

At first, Quentin’s entrepreneurial brainchild is surprisingly successful. But as he interacts with clients, message recipients, and his long-time best friend, Abigail, it doesn’t take long for him to wonder if his own heart will remain intact. Quentin discovers that the game of love and the emotions that go with it are as complicated as they come–even for an almost innocent bystander. (Source)

Who will like this book?: There’s realistic fiction, and then there’s the “realistic” fiction that makes reality a lot more interesting.  Readers who want to be able to relate a book to their own lives but also need some humor and drama in their reading will enjoy this book. It strikes a nice balance between being light and goofy, and also touching on deeper emotional ideas. It’s also a rare example of a book about relationships from the point of view of a boy.

Who won’t like this book?: The book is funny but isn’t quite laugh-out-loud humor, probably because there is a note of seriousness to its subject matter. On the flip side, it probably isn’t serious enough to satisfy those seeking out insight on dating and heartbreak.

Other comments: This isn’t really a romance, and Quentin is not in a relationship, but it might still be too much about dating for some of the real no-romance readers.


What to read next: The Fourth Stall by Chris Rylander is another funny book about a boy whose illicit business gets him in trouble with other teens. Ungifted by Gordon Korman also features a guy whose “brilliant” plan backfire in humorous ways.


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