Book Review: Breakfast with Neruda by Laura Moe

Title: Breakfast with Neruda
Authors: Laura Moe
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publisher: Merit Press
Publication Date:  May 16th, 2016
Page Count:  252 pages
Format:  Hardcover
Source: From publisher in exchange of an honest review

Michael Flynn is just trying to get through his community service after he made the dumb decision to try to blow up his friend's car with fireworks--the same friend who stole Michael's girl. Being expelled and losing his best buddy and his girlfriend are the least of his problems: Michael has learned to hide everything, from his sick hoarder mother to the fact that he's stuck living in a 1982 Ford LTD station wagon he calls the Blue Whale. Then one day, during mandatory community service, he meets Shelly, a girl with a past, who's also special enough to unmask Michael's deepest secrets. Can he manage to be worthy of her love, a guy living in a car, unable to return to his chaotic and fit-to-be-condemned home? Shelly won't give up, and tries to peel back the layers of garbage and pain to reveal Michael's immense heart.
*The Reader's Review*
My rating: 3.5/5 stars
I lost count of the number of times that I've written and re-written this review and not being satisfied with what my fingers are typing. This book... I feel that this book deserves a lot more than what I'm going to say since it has such a great story inside and I know it will strike some chords and possibly inspire more than a few people out there. I have to admit this book wasn't the perfect read, it was slow at times and I wish to not have such a loose ending, but it's still enjoyable and I believe worth your time. So here are a few simple thoughts about this book:

As the blurb says, Breakfast with Neruda is about a boy who is stuck doing community service at his High School during summertime after trying to get back at his best friend who stole his girlfriend. In there he meets fellow misfit Shelly who quickly learns some of his deepest secrets--how he lives in his car (though not the why to his relief), how he usually dives into restaurant dumpsters to grab a bite (they are not that bad!), and how he wishes to at least know who his father is (is he is still alive).

I don't think I will ever be able to 100% relate to Michael's unusual living conditions (and his life), but while I was reading his story, I started to imagine how it would be living that way, as far as going outside and sitting in my car, and I felt this enormous pang in my heart for what I usually take for granted--a roof over my head, a clean space to call my own, and overall, a healthy living environment. Michael's situation might not be the WORST out there, but what this boy goes through every day just so as not step foot in a house that can't be walked through or breathe into is still so darn HARD. Because his mother is an unstoppable hoarder. Because there is not a single clean space where he could even sit, let alone sleep. Because no teenager should EVER live like this and yet I know this DOES happen in real life. Maybe not because of junk hoarding, but what about other family issues like violence or money problems?

I felt for Michael and his hardships, for his sister who is forced to sleep in the porch. I even felt for his mom who is messed up and doesn't let anyone in, who doesn't even notice how much pain she is inflicting on her kids. Mental health is a strong issue with his mother and it saddened me to read how helpless Michael, his sister, and even his other brother, felt. You see, there's absolutely nothing you could do for someone who doesn't want to be helped. 

Wow, I am describing Breakfast with Neruda as such a heavy read, and maybe it is because of the themes found inside, but this book is also funny and uplifting at times. Shelly and Michael love to talk about literature, including about Neruda, and they paint such pretty thoughts in your mind as you follow their conversations. One of the things I liked the most in this novel!

There is of course much more to the story, but I'll leave it up to you to find out!


  1. I can totally relate to your conflict when writing the review. So hard to sum up your feelings and feel good about what you are writing sometimes! I think you did a great job though, and I'll definitely be keeping my eye out for this read.

  2. I'm so glad you ended up enjoying this book. It sounds like my kind of read, I need to add it to my TBR.

  3. I had this to read, but I struggled so much with getting into it. If I'm not mistaken during my move this got left behind. Glad you at least liked it, Meli!