The Breakup Diaries by Maya O. Calica

I don’t get to feature Filipino fiction as often as I’d like here on the blog so it feels like a treat when I get to do so. I can still remember the first time I read The Breakup Diaries a few years ago. I was still in college then and this title was my favorite out of all the Summit Books that were available at that time. After I finished reading it, I worked on convincing my girlfriends to pick it up as well so we could discuss it. Preferably while hanging out in a cafe because Monica, the main character, is a barista. When I saw that it has been reissued, I decided to grab a new edition and read it on my flight back to Singapore from Manila. I ended up enjoying the book just as much as when I first discovered it.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

the breakup diariesTwenty-three-year-old self-proclaimed nice girl Monica Tanseco is finding out the hard way that in order to survive a breakup, you have to grow up – fast. Sure, breaking up is hard to do, but who knew it involved:

– Denial, followed by desperate bid to get back together involving promises to do everything to make him happy
– Sever loss of sleep, appetite and self-esteem
– Acute paralysis – or maybe death – of good judgment
– Compulsive tendencies to document every event, feeling and fantasy in a manner of reporter trying to make sense of things
– More compulsive tendencies to over-examine relationship carcass and over-analyze cause of death as couple
– Getting a life

When her perfect boyfriend – college hoop star certified hottie and young hotshot eagle Itos Ongpauco – decided to call it quits, Monica, barista by day and dreamer by night, found herself stepping out from behind the coffee counter and out of her comfort zone – into the mad world of magazine publishing.

While starting out at the bottom of the food chain as the overworked, unpaid intern at “M” magazine can obliterate any trace of self-esteem, anything – including bitchy bosses, temperamental photographers, rather dull but oh-so-hot male models – is a welcome balm to her pains. Never mind that her freebie-obsessed boss treats her like an on-call, 24-hour proxy service. Never mind, that, sometimes, when she’s had too much alcohol, male models become irresistible. Never mind that, despite having just had her heart-broken, the possibility of love presents itself again.

One of the main reasons why I enjoyed reading The Breakup Diaries so much is because it’s easy to relate to Monica’s situation: how difficult it us to pick up the threads of your life after a breakup, especially when you didn’t see it coming. Monica had no idea that her boyfriend would decide to call it quits on their anniversary dinner date. Pretty harsh, noh? I felt so bad for her but what I liked about the book is that it was still fun to read even though the character was experiencing a major setback. There were several hilarious moments within the story and all throughout everything, you’re rooting for Monica to heal her broken heart. Her reaction to the breakup felt realistic, from wanting to get back together with her boyfriend to re-evaluating her life and seeing things in a different light. It’s also nice that Monica had friends and family who were there to support her – as with any problem, it really helps to know that other people have your back. I also liked how The Breakup Diaries gave me a better idea of what it’s like working in a magazine publishing company. I don’t want to say too much about the book because it’s a short and sweet read, something that you can finish during a flight or an evening when you’re in the mood for something light. I think it’s fitting that my first review for 2013 is about an old favorite. If you’ve ever experienced a breakup, then you’ll probably be able to relate to Monica as well.

One thing I noticed about the new edition is that it had several typos. I don’t remember seeing those in the original edition – it’s a minor thing but I thought I’d just take note of it. I do like the new cover more than the old one:

the breakup diaries reissue

No Strings Attached by Mina V. Esguerra

No Strings Attached is Mina V. Esguerra’s latest chick lit novel. As usual, it’s set in Manila, featuring a girl in her late twenties. I did a post about the book here when I bought it a few days ago. It’s available in all Book Sale, National Bookstore and Fully Booked for P150.

Here’s the summary from the back of the book:

Carla is a whiz at her job: she’s efficient, reliable, and a total genius when it comes to putting something together at the last-minute. The snag is she’s single and turning the big three-oh in a few months. Her girl best friend (yes, she’s married just like the other girls in Carla’s barkada) keeps trying to set her up with stable banker-types, while her guy best friend (single – the other single one) encourages her to play the field – no strings attached. Then, through no set up or extraordinary circumstance, Carla meets Dante. Hot, smug, sexy Dante. Definitely not a banker-type and seemingly too good to be true. So there’s got to be a catch. There is. He’s five years younger. Is the universe telling Carla to finally let loose and enjoy a fling with a younger man? Or is there a lot more to this awkward situation that she bargained for?

It’s funny because the main character in this one reminded me somewhat of the main character in Amazing Grace. I think it’s because they’re both in their late twenties and they’re both being pestered by friends to settle down and get married. That’s a pretty accurate portrayal, actually. I’m in my mid-twenties and three of my friends got married this year. I’d like to think that the Philippines is more liberal nowadays but most people still believe that a girl should be married by the time she reaches her thirties. Carla feels like she’s different from the rest of her barkada (group of friends) because most of them have their own families already. The only other single person in their group is her best friend Tonio and he’s single because he enjoys playing the field. Carla’s fed up with all the set-up schemes of her friends. Even if she’s turning thirty, she’s not exactly worried about finding someone to marry. Aside from that, her friends also keep telling her to move up the corporate ladder and that it’s not good to be stuck as an admin assistant forever. When she meets Dante, she agrees to date him on the condition that they should keep things simple – they should just have fun when they’re together and not worry about the future.

Carla thinks that her age gap with Dante is a big deal but I don’t think it matters that much. I think it’s funny that even though it seems like Carla and Dante don’t have much in common and they have different personalities, they still get along really well. I enjoyed reading No Strings Attached but Fairy Tale Fail is still my favorite out of all the local chick lit books that I’ve read. Even though Dante’s described as a hot guy, there aren’t that many kilig (swoon-worthy) moments in this one. The focus isn’t the build up of the love story but rather the complications involved in their relationship. It’s a quick and light read and the kind of book that you can finish in one sitting. Recommended for fans of chick lit. I hope Mina comes up with something new soon because she’s already in my auto-buy list.

Click on the images below to see my reviews of Mina’s other books, Fairy Tale Fail and My Imaginary Ex:

Other reviews: (manually generated)
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