Review: The Break-Up Artist by Philip Siegel

April 24, 2014 Book Review, Young Adult 14 ★★★★

The Break-Up ArtistThe Break-Up Artist by Philip Siegel
Published by Harlequin Teen on April 29th 2014
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult
Format: ARC
Source: Netgalley
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<p>Some sixteen-year-olds babysit for extra cash. Some work at the Gap. Becca Williamson breaks up couples.</p>
<p>After watching her sister get left at the altar, Becca knows the true damage that comes when people utter the dreaded L-word. For just $100 via paypal, she can trick and manipulate any couple into smithereens. With relationship zombies overrunning her school, and treating single girls like second class citizens, business is unfortunately booming. Even her best friend Val has resorted to outright lies to snag a boyfriend.</p>
<p>One night, she receives a mysterious offer to break up the homecoming king and queen, the one zombie couple to rule them all: Steve and Huxley. They are a JFK and Jackie O in training, masters of sweeping faux-mantic gestures, but if Becca can split them up, then school will be safe again for singletons. To succeed, she'll have to plan her most elaborate scheme to date and wiggle her way back into her former BFF Huxley’s life – not to mention start a few rumors, sabotage some cell phones, break into a car, and fend off the inappropriate feelings she’s having about Val’s new boyfriend. All while avoiding a past victim out to expose her true identity.</p>
<p>No one said being the Break-Up Artist was easy.</p>

Ever since I helped showcase The Break-Up Artist‘s cover back in October, I’ve been excited to read it! A story about a girl who helps destroy couples sounded quite interesting to me and like it could be the perfect recipe for disaster, in all the right ways, and that’s exactly what I found.

Becca is basically a love skeptic. She doesn’t really believe much in it, especially since her sister was left at the altar. As a perpetual single girl and sometimes third wheel, she doesn’t want to believe in it either. In the beginning, this made me laugh, especially when she’d get in a debate on love in such tragedies as Romeo and Juliet. And I loved how close and protective she felt of her sister, who often times helped on the break up missions. As we move on in the story we start to uncover just how serious this issue was affecting Becca in all aspects of her life.

As I said, Becca made me laugh in the beginning with her negative views on love and coupledom. In high school she is surrounded by couples hamming it up with constant cutesy acts and PDA, eye-roll worthy to so many not currently inflicted by the love bug, I’m sure. I loved her attitude that you don’t need a boyfriend in your life to be happy. That’s a great message to pass on to young girls who are desperately searching for their next boyfriend. And I remember those days. I remember being the third wheel, sometimes feeling the same as Becca but also sometimes feeling like her friend Val, who wanted to fit in and experience all of that fun stuff that comes with having a boyfriend too. Somewhere along the line, it became apparent to me that Becca was traveling a dangerous road where her cynical nature was becoming too much and she was in way over her head. Her schemes were becoming way too messy and people were getting really hurt. I found myself cringing and yelling at her through the pages for some of her actions. Flaws, she had them. But it made me root for her more, for her to get her head on straight and see what she was doing wrong, to make a turn around. It takes awhile to get there but I enjoyed the journey she takes.

There are a slew of secondary characters that helped make this story what it was. Becca’s sister Diane, who helped inspire the whole ‘break-up artist’ thing, had to take a journey on letting go and moving on with her life right along with Becca. I loved their closeness but I hated how Diane was such a negative impact on Becca. It was like she had to turn her sister into a ‘negative Nancy’ to make her feel better about her own depression. It drove me nuts at times! Luckily Becca comes around and sees the situation for what it was.Then there is Huxley, Becca’s former friend who is one half of the school’s big time power couple that she was hired to break apart. I must admit Huxley often times reminded me of Regina George in Mean Girls. The school’s Queen Bee, but when things start to go down, her friends rush to gossip about her downfalls. And the girl was often rude, selfish and self-centered. Crazily enough, I loved her! lol She knew what she wanted and wasn’t going to go down without a fight. And I genuinely think she had some great moments of vulnerability and turn around. Becca’s BFF Val was basically the opposite of her. A total love freak who was obsessed with the idea of it. She finds a boy toy in Ezra, who I wasn’t into from the get-go. And then he wormed his way into Becca’s life, threatening to come between the two girls. The whole situation made me uncomfortable for all parties. But I appreciated how it ended.

I think it is important to note that if you came into this novel looking for a romance, you’d be a little disappointed. This story isn’t about that at all. And I don’t think it is an anti-relationship story either. It’s about a girl opening herself up to new ideas and possibilities. It’s about helping people for the right reasons. It’s about learning that love is different for everyone and people need to experience it and it’s downfalls for themselves.

Would I recommend? Definitely. Despite a few cheesy moments and perhaps a few things being wrapped up a little too quickly and neatly for what I hoped, I found the book to be a lot of fun and a joy to read.


About Philip Siegel

Philip Siegel grew up in New Jersey, which he insists is much nicer than certain TV shows would have you believe. He graduated from Northwestern University and promptly moved out to Los Angeles, where he became an NBC Page. He likes to think that the character of Kenneth on 30 Rock is loosely based on his life rights. Currently, he lives in Chicago and does his best writing sandwiched in between colorful characters on the El. Visit him online at or follow

him on Twitter, @FillupSeagull.

Sara @ Forever 17 Books

14 Responses to “Review: The Break-Up Artist by Philip Siegel”

  1. Born Bookish

    I’m really looking forward to meeting Becca’s character, I think she’ll be a nice change from the typical love crazed main characters in contemporary. It’s too bad the sister was such a negative influence on Becca, I love when there are strong sibling relationships in YA. Awesome review, you’ve convinced me to add this to my TBR =)
    Born Bookish recently posted…Author Interview with Terry Lynn JohnsonMy Profile

  2. Jasprit

    I’ve seen so many reviews for this book around lately Sara, so I’m glad to see that you were able to enjoy this overall. I’m really liking the concept this book decides to explore that I may have to give it a go soon! Lovely review!

  3. Pam@YAEscapefromReality

    Although I knew Becca was basically a good person, sometimes it was hard to like her because she makes some pretty horrible decisions, mainly because she thinks she knows everything. But she felt real. People make mistakes, sometimes they do selfish things, and the author does a great job creating complex and gray characters.

    I enjoyed this book, it was a refreshing change, not the typical contemporary. It was strange to read a contemporary that wasn’t focused on the romance, but I still was entertained and I thought it was a unique and clever plot. But yeah, if you’re wanting romance, you’ll be disappointed. Great review!

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