Monday, 20 February 2012

The Lover's Dictionary - David Levithan

I saw this when I was still working in the book store and thought it was an interesting idea. It is such a clever and original idea that I wondered why no other author had attempted something like this.
So when my friend mentioned she had a copy after I read her copy of Dash and Lily's Book of Dares (also by David Levithan with Rachel Cohn) I was quite intrigued to see what she thought and what the book itself was like.

In a way this doesn't have a synopsis as if I told you the story within it, it would ruin the book so I'm going to dive straight in.

Review: The story within the book is told through a series of words that mean or relate to an event of a relationship between two people, who met on the internet. The words are done alphabetically so the whole story is mixed up. This is nice in a way as one page you'll have a romantic scene expressing their love for each other, and then the next, a bitter argument. I loved this juxtaposing which I think really defined a normal relationship - it can go from great to bad very quickly.

The book explores the pros and cons of love for everyone and as the characters are unnamed, it seems like this could happen to anyone. David Levithan has created a book where we all feel we can engage with the events in the story - even if we're not in a relationship right now. Not only does it explore the meaning of love, but also plays with the meanings of words.

So the major pro of this book? OH MY GOD IT IS SO SWEET.  The protagonist seems very much in love and when something terrible happens, you really feel for him.
My major con? A lot of the words were words I had never heard of before. Sad, but quite true. Seriously, I had no idea what they meant - they were words that are perhaps rarely used in the English language. This seems to be a recurring theme in David Levithan's writing, as Dash was a bit out there in his word choices in Dash and Lily's Book of Dares. I mean ZENITH? That is the last word used. I asked my friend who when we come to words, she is a queen at knowing the definitions AND SHE DIDN'T EVEN KNOW IT. I liked and understood most of them, but my advice would be to accompany this book with a proper dictionary. Sorry - rant over.

This book is easy to devour - such a quick read due to the small amount of writing on each page, sometimes just a sentence. I think would be relaxing and fun if you had an hour spare on a train journey or a Sunday afternoon. It is a special, cleverly crafted book that means something different to everyone, depending on their personal situations. Being only 17 and had only 2 relationships - both ending badly - I probably relate to little of the words in this book compared to someone older. But at it's length - everyone should read it at least once.

This could be seen as a story, although simple. It has a beginning, middle and end - just mixed up. I know the story of the relationship told but it is forgettable - not important for me. The part I'll remember for this book, and for others too, is the way it is written and the compassion and love spoken between the lines.
This is a new and quirky way of telling a story and I don't think should be discounted by anyone. Some people will hate this, but some people will adore it.

This is simply a modern couple's story told in a very modern and unique way. I commend you, David Levithan - well done.

I give it a 4 out of 5

Author's Website:
Pages: 211
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Challenges: None

Other books by David Levithan:
Dash and Lily's Book of Dares


  1. I love the look and idea of this book. Ooh, the chapter idea sounds so good. I'd love to read this, great review!

  2. Zenith is a word not usually associated with relationships in my circle of friends, but we do use it (and did a fair while back already). I'm curious to see which other words stumped you though, because I bet I'm out of my depth on some of them for sure. Overall, I really love the idea of this book, so it's going on my Amazon wishlist (not that the books there actually ever get bought, it seems...)

  3. hahah, it is a lovely idea and really cleverly done by David Levithan. I just didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would.


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