Nov 15, 2011

Review | The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan

Title: The Lover's Dictionary
Author: David Levithan
Genre: Fiction
Publication: 01.04.2011 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Pages: 211
Source: Library


basis, n.

There has to be a moment at the beginning when you wonder whether you’re in love with the person or in love with the feeling of love itself.

If the moment doesn’t pass, that’s it—you’re done. And if the moment does pass, it never goes that far. It stands in the distance, ready for whenever you want it back. Sometimes it’s even there when you thought you were searching for something else, like an escape route, or your lover’s face.

How does one talk about love? Do we even have the right words to describe something that can be both utterly mundane and completely transcendent, pulling us out of our everyday lives and making us feel a part of something greater than ourselves? Taking a unique approach to this problem, the nameless narrator of David Levithan’s The Lover’s Dictionary has constructed the story of his relationship as a dictionary. Through these short entries, he provides an intimate window into the great events and quotidian trifles of being within a couple, giving us an indelible and deeply moving portrait of love in our time.

Cover: It's very simple, but I like that the heart is made of words and that the hearts and letter "V" are in red around the cover.

May contain spoilers, but not really. Just proceed with caution.

Thoughts: I was pretty excited to pick this up because I have heard good things about the author from plenty of bloggers. This was probably not the best book to start off with because it didn't provide the feel for the author's writing that I expected. I was pretty entertained for the first few pages of the book, until I realized that there was no chronological order to the "story," if we can call it that. There is definitely two main characters whose names we never know and we can figure out the book is told through the guy's POV. The story is told only through words and their definitions but the story is out of order.

blemish, n.

The slight acne scars. The penny-sized, penny-shaped birthmark right above your knee. The dot below your shoulder that must have been from when you had chicken pox in third grade. The scratch on your neck -- did I do that?

This brief transcript of moments, written on the body, is so deeply satisfying to read.

There were several times that I felt like I needed a dictionary to read this though because some words were new to me and for some reason, the tidbit that was supposed to "define" the word left me just as clueless about it. For example, the word "doldrums"...well what the heck is that?

doldrums, n.

The proper verb for depression is sink.

If you know what doldrums means, this might make a little more sense. I, in fact, had to look up what it meant because that definition did not help me whatsoever. But even that didn't stop me from wanting to know what would happen next, so I didn't put the book down until I was done.

Even though I was a little disappointed that there was no order, there were definitely connections between the words. It was evident right away what there is no way to know what is going on in regards to time, but about half way through the book it is easier to understand where the story is going. I am not sure exactly how the story ends and this sort of left me a little confused when I finally finished the book. I could literally write down the last word in the book and y'all would not know what happens. I know what happens from previous words, but I don't know how it really all ends. Does that make sense? If you've read the book, then maybe it does. If you haven't read it, maybe you should give it a try.

posterity, n.

I try not to think about us growing old together, mostly because I try not to think about growing old at all. Both things -- the years passing, the years together -- are too enormous to contemplate. But one morning, I gave in. You were asleep, and I imagined you older and older. Your hair graying, your skin folded and creased, your breath catching. And I found myself thinking: If this continues, if this goes on, then when I die, your memories of me will be my greatest accomplishment. Your memories will be my most lasting impression.

I definitely liked The Lover's Dictionary. It is a love story and I am a hopeless romantic. But it is also real look at relationships. Not all the words are cute and fluffy. There were several that made me cry because I could totally relate to them. My favorite word in the entire book is probably the most hurtful one. Whether you're a romantic or not, you should pick this one up. I know everyone will be able to find a bit of themselves in at least one word in this book.
Favorite quote [This quote has been hidden because it may contain spoilers. To view it, highlight]:

"livid, adj.

Fuck you for cheating on me. Fuck you for reducing it to the word cheating. As if this were a card game, and you sneaked a look at my hand. Who came up with the term cheating, anyway? A cheater, I imagine. Someone who thought liar was too harsh. Someone who thought devastator was too emotional. The same person who thought, oops, he'd gotten caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Fuck you. This isn't about slipping yourself an extra twenty dollars of Monopoly money. These are our lives. You went and broke our lives. You are so much worse than a cheater. You killed something. And you killed it when its back was turned."

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  1. This wasn't his best work to me, either. But I still really enjoyed it for its depth of feeling. Some definitions were beautiful.

  2. glad you liked this! i actually haven't read any of his stuff before.

    here's my review of catching jordan! stop by?!

  3. I'm dying to read this, always heard good things about it. Great review!

  4. I haven't read any of his stuff, but I really want to. This book sounds like a great read. :)

    Amazing review as always, Cindy! ^_^

  5. I've wanted to read this for ages! For some reason I couldn't find a copy at work or at the library. So I ordered it. Your review was really good. I'm pretty sure I'll be reading it while thumbing though a dictionary too. :)

    ♥ Trish
    Just a YA Girl

  6. Yes, I think David Levithan is a pretty good author. I only read his book Dash & Lily's Book of Dares. But I will definitely read this one,too. You make it sound like a book I want to read:)

  7. I'm a hopeless romantic as well and this book just went straight up on my TBB list. I always forget about this book so thanks for putting it back on my radar.