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Instructions for a Broken Heart
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Instructions for a Broken Heart

3.30  ·  Rating details ·  1,337 ratings  ·  203 reviews

Three days before her drama club's trip to Italy, Jessa Gardner discovers her boyfriend in the costume barn with another girl. Jessa is left with a care package from her best friend titled "Top Twenty Reasons He's a Slimy Jerk Bastard," instructing her to do one un-Jessa-like thing each day of the trip. At turns hilarious and heartwrenching, Instructions for a Broken Heart

Paperback, 304 pages
Published May 1st 2011 by Sourcebooks Fire
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Average rating 3.30  · 
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 ·  1,337 ratings  ·  203 reviews

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Apr 23, 2011 rated it did not like it
Warning: If you loved/liked this book or if you don’t like to read spoilers, please don’t continue with my review. I’ve got lots of spew and spoilers to share, and I feel I’ve earned the right to do so seeing as this craptastic story threw me into a book slump for close to two weeks! I actually hissed at my beloved Nook… HISSED!!... every time I picked it up trying to finish Instructions for a Broken Heart it was that bad IMO!

I usually reserve the One Star Honor Rating for books I simply can’t f
Instructions For a Broken heart was not the book I imagined it would be. Based on the blurb and the cover (and even the endorsement quote from Jennifer Echols) I was expecting a romantic coming-of-age book set against a gorgeous back-drop of Italy. It just sounded lovely, perhaps quirky (with the notes and the characters all being drama students) and also quite swoon-y.

However, it really failed to capture my attention. (view spoiler)

Jessa was altogethe
Apr 30, 2011 rated it liked it
Street corner optional May read.

We've all been there. High School. In love with some tool. Dumped by said tool. Devastated.
However, after being dumped I did not have to fly halfway around the world with said Dumper and his new girl toy with HUGE boobs (whom he was cheating with.) Poor girl. I did feel a certain amount of sisterly love and pity for her in the beginning.
seriously, she was in Italy. Put on your big girl panties and suck it up a little. Yeah, the situation sucked and I know in
Apr 09, 2011 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: hardcore fans of Sarah Dessen's and Elizabeth Scott's girl-finds-herself-novels
Double-Yay for me!! I have finished reading Instructions for a Broken Heart not skimming or skipping one single page although I was less interested than I had expected during the first half of the book and quite bored during the second half.
Mar 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
1. You love gorgeous writing.
2. You like/love/would like to go to Italy.
3. You appreciate romance but hate saccharine.
4. You remember having your heart broken for the first time.
5. You like/love/need to be reminded that life isn't all gloom and doom.
6. You have fantasized at some point in your life about throwing an orange soda (or something equally messy) at someone who really deserved it.
7. You are not the kind of person who would actually throw a neon drink at someone.
8. You want to read a bo
Sep 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, young-adult
So, YA isn't really my thing. And in addition, books focusing on the journeys of soul-searching-women (girls in this case) aren't really my thing either. Don't get me started on Elizabeth Gilbert. But I read this even so, and enjoyed it all the way through. Kim has a knack for getting to and expressing the thoughts and motivations of kids this age, and emphasizing that there is more than meets the eye to all of them. If Jessa's personality quirks didn't remind me so much of myself at that age, I ...more
Andi (Andi's ABCs)
Mar 31, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: own
I really really had high hopes for this book and sadly it felt a little disappointed. I wanted to like Jessa and I wanted to like the instructions that Carissa had given her, but like Dylan Thomas in the book pointed out, the instructions were more for Carissa then for Jessa. It was stuff she didn't like about Sean or felt bad about. It didn't have to do with Jessa at all. And Jessa was kind of all over the place for me. I know she had her heart broken, but there was just something missing in he ...more
Mar 14, 2011 rated it liked it
This book has been marketed as Eat. Pray. Love. for YA and for good reason. Instructions for a Broken Heart details the emotional journey and healing of Jessa Gardner as she travels around Italy on a school trip. The letters she receives from her best friend take her through the different stages of grief until she is finally able to really be over her ex, not only with help from the letters but also from the beautiful world around her and new friends.

YA contemporary isn't my favorite genre, but
Aug 19, 2014 rated it did not like it
This book was honestly one of the stupidest books I've ever read. I can't believe this is the same author who wrote Catch a Falling Star!

There are several reasons why I hated this book so much.

First, I thought the reasons that her friend chose were really lame. Some of them didn't even make sense. Like the one where Sean pronounced the name of the cafe wrong and everyone made fun of him. I honestly don't understand how him saying the name wrong made him a jerk. Aren't his friends the jerks for
Jan 19, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: contemporary
So. My first one star review. And on a book I thought I would love, no less. I feel really bad giving Instructions For A Broken Heart such a low rating - I tried so hard to find something, anything, I liked, but ultimately I drew a blank.

Reading that synopsis, I was expecting a light, fluffy novel, probably in the same vein as Anna and the French Kiss. Instead, I got an annoying main character that squanders a trip to beautiful Italy by being the most petty, pathetic and just downright annoying
Stella L
Jan 19, 2012 rated it it was ok
I really did like Dylan Thomas, but not as a love interest. He's an interesting character on his own, and sounded like a fun guy to hang out with. The whole liking Jessa thing seemed more of an afterthought and kind of actually demoted him in my mind. I did love some of the descriptions, but this book really seemed to go one step forward two steps back with her development and interactions with the characters, especially with Cruella and Natalie. First she's sympathetic, then cussing them out, t ...more
Gabrielle Carolina
Nov 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bir11
I loved every minute of this read and really, truly, deeply connected to Jessa. Tears, smiles and laugher abound.

One of my favorite reads of 2011 thus-far and you can be sure I will be picking up Culbertson's first novel after this.

Long fan-girly review TK
Apr 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Cute story, not great literature, but a fun, light read about a brokenhearted high schooler on a spring break trip with her ex and his new girlfriend.
Mundie Moms & Mundie Kids
Normally this kind of book isn't one I pick up and immediately sit down and read, but the cover, the Italian setting and a girl reeling from a broken heart peeked my curiosity and I had find out what happens.

After Jessa catches her then boyfriend and another girl, whom she calls big boobed Natalie making out their drama club's barn, Jessa is completely devastated, and broken hearted. To make matters worse she's stuck on their drama club's trip to Italy with them. Her best friend Carisa sends her
Christina (Confessions of a Book Addict)
Jessa is in a drama club that is taking a trip of a lifetime to Italy over spring break. Jessa's boyfriend, Sean, is also part of the drama club and is going as well, which leaves her with much excitement.....that is until she finds Sean making out with another girl in the costume barn. Jessa is destroyed by this betrayal, but she is still set on going to Italy even though Sean will be there with his new girlfriend. Unfortunately, her best friend, Carissa, can't go, and sends her a package with ...more
Stephanie A.
I read this book because the cover reminded me of Rachel Berry in the season 3 finale of "Glee." "Slimy Jerk Bastard" brought Jesse to mind. I may or may not have then had a merry old time fitting Glee characters into every role imaginable.

That's not the only reason I loved it, though. I like books with a hook, if you will, and the 20 envelopes added a driving force behind the narrative as I eagerly anticipated both the reason and the instructions to follow in each one. That turned into an intr
Aug 19, 2011 rated it liked it
2.5 stars
I hate when I read a book and feel really dense for not getting it. I feel like I should have felt sympathetic towards Jessa and relate to her heart break after having her heart crushed by a slime ball boyfriend but I really couldn't and found it hard to figure out why I should like her at all. If you know why please let me know. I know she's a teenager and just caught her boyfriend rolling around in a tongue lock with another girl but from what we begin to see maybe she did bring it up
Ashley - Book Labyrinth
3.5 stars

‘Instructions for a Broken Heart’ is a read that fell somewhere right in the middle for me. I didn’t love it, though I really liked certain aspects of it. I loved the descriptions of the Italian scenery and all the different monuments and places that Jessa and her classmates visited. I also thought the letters from Jessa’s best friend Carissa were a great plot device. The letters allowed Jessa to do things that were out of character for her, and while a lot of them ended up in catastrop
Cindy Hudson
May 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
Just before she’s set to leave for Italy with her high school drama club, Jessa catches her boyfriend, Sean, making out with another girl. Going on the trip is harder than she thought it would be, especially because Sean and his new girlfriend are also part of the drama club.

So she sets out to get over Sean with the help of her best friend, Carissa, who has sent along instructions for Jessa to do one thing each day of her trip that takes her out of her comfort zone and onto the path of getting o
Not rating because I didn't finish this one. I made it most of the way and skimmed through to the end.

Why, I ask, why is it always a boy who has to send a girl toward her crisis of person hood? Toward her moment of becoming? Sometimes it makes me sad this is the message that gets sent again and again. I get it. Relationships are important, but they shouldn't be the catalyst for a girl becoming herself and realizing she's lost who she is and needs to find it.

The biggest problems I had with this
Anastasia Lily
Jul 18, 2011 rated it liked it
Instructions for a broken heart by Kim Culbertson
Reviewed by Moirae the fates book reviews

Three days before her drama club's trip to Italy, Jessa Gardner discovers her boyfriend in the costume barn with another girl. Jessa is left with a care package from her best friend titled "Top Twenty Reasons He's a Slimy Jerk Bastard," instructing her to do one un-Jessa-like thing each day of the trip. At turns hilarious and heartwrenching, Instructions for a Broken Heart paints a magical Italy in which J
I really liked this a lot and there are some specific things that will appeal to certain of my GR friends.

1) Well-described travel. Not just Italy, but the weight of a non-stop bus trip, plus the inter-group hookups that happen when you're traveling with multiple groups. I took one of those trips the summer after high school. It is frighteningly realistic.

2) There's a student-teacher thing.

I do have to say, though, that I'm noticing more and more that I don't like the way female friendship is wr
Jana at
It's about healing, forgiveness, self-discovery, and growing up. There's a lot of scenery, theater references, introspection, and emotions. The plot was predictable in places, and some might feel like this subject matter has been done and overdone, but I ended up really enjoying it! The ending made the book for me, and I would recommend it to anyone who loves traveling, coming of age stories, and light contemporary, summery reads!

(Read my full review on the blog.)
Sep 11, 2011 rated it liked it
What you'd expect.

That said, I'm giving it three stars because I thought one thing that this book did really well was portray student-teacher relationships, especially student-teacher relationships where the people involved are interacting in an arena much different from your traditional classroom. This was really, really nice to see.
Jan 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
The descriptions of Italy alone make this book worth reading, but what's most admirable is how Culbertson creates a truly original, intelligent, inspiring book with what may, at first glance, feel like predictable-outcome material. You will be surprised and delighted by Jessa's journey, and read some lovely writing in the process!
Sloane Tanen
Aug 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is a terrific Y/A book that feels amazingly authentic. It brought me back to the days. Culbertson creates a strong, likeable and believable female protagonist. I could see Emma Stone starring as Jessa in the movie. Hollywood, where are you? This is a natural for adaptation!
Jul 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Ever been to the country of love having just been dumped? Well, Jessa is there, and the only thing that's getting her through are the instructions her friend is making her follow. Wacky and touching, I really enjoyed this story and the lessons we learn along our journey.
Jolene Perry
Jan 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Loved it.

Would easily recommend to pretty much everyone :D
Oct 31, 2017 rated it liked it
How can you get over the fact that your boyfriend cheated on you while in a costume barn? I'm sure Jessa asled herself this many times before heading to the beautiful place known as Italy. Little did she know that her best friend, Clarissa, already figured that one out for her. The question is, can she step out of her comfort zone and follow the instructions so clearly written for her on each envelope? Can Jessa get over a broken heart while being trapped near her ex making out with another girl ...more
Christy Ngo
Oct 23, 2017 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Kim Culbertson is the author of the teen novels THE WONDER OF US (Scholastic 2017), THE POSSIBILITY OF NOW (Scholastic 2016), CATCH A FALLING STAR (Scholastic 2014), INSTRUCTIONS FOR A BROKEN HEART (Sourcebooks 2011), and SONGS FOR A TEENAGE NOMAD (Sourcebooks 2010).

She believes books make the world a better place.

Happy Reading!

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Contemporary young adult literature has often led the way in depicting the real-life issues facing teens from all backgrounds. To delve into ho...
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“Instructions for a Broken Heart
I will find a bare patch of earth, somewhere where the ruins have fallen away, somewhere where I can fit both hands, and I will dig a hole.
And into that hole, I will scream you, I will dump all the shadow places of my heart—the times you didn’t call when you said you’d call, the way you only half listened to my poems, your eyes on people coming through the swinging door of the café—not on me—your ears, not really turned toward me. For all those times I started to tell you about the fight with my dad or when my grandma died, and you said something about your car, something about the math test you flunked, as an answer. I will scream into that hole the silence of dark nights after you’d kissed me, how when I asked if something was wrong—and something was obviously so very wrong—how you said “nothing,” how you didn’t tell me until I had to see it in the dim light of a costume barn—so much wrong. I will scream all of it.
Then I will fill it in with dark earth, leave it here in Italy, so there will be an ocean between the hole and me.
Because then I can bring home a heart full of the light patches. A heart that sees the sunset you saw that night outside of Taco Bell, the way you pointed out that it made the trees seem on fire, a heart that holds the time your little brother fell on his bike at the fairgrounds and you had pockets full of bright colored Band-Aids and you kissed the bare skin of his knees. I will take that home with me. In my heart. I will take home your final Hamlet monologue on the dark stage when you cried closing night and it wasn’t really acting, you cried because you felt the words in you and on that bare stage you felt the way I feel every day of my life, every second, the way the words, the light and dark, the spotlight in your face, made you Hamlet for that brief hiccup of a moment, made you a poet, an artist at your core. I get to take Italy home with me, the Italy that showed me you and the Italy that showed me—me—the Italy that wrote me my very own instructions for a broken heart. And I get to leave the other heart in a hole.
We are over. I know this. But we are not blank. We were a beautiful building made of stone, crumbled now and covered in vines.
But not blank. Not forgotten. We are a history.
We are beauty out of ruins.”
“What’s painful is that what you had together, all your inside jokes and favorite restaurants and that movie you both loved but everyone else hated—that’s gone, and there’s no replacement for it, you never replicate it, never get to have it ever again…” 16 likes
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