Rummanah Aasi
  I am a David Levithan fan ever since I read Boy Meets Boy for my YA lit class for library school. After finishing that book, I've read several other of his YA books. I was super-excited to learn last year that he was going to write his debut adult fiction novel, The Lover's Dictionary, which I was really looking forward to read this year. I also included his book on my Can't Help Falling in Love Booklist, but after finishing the book, the list could also go on my Love Will Tear Us Apart Booklist too.

Description: A nameless narrator tries to define his experiences with love and being part of a relationship by writing a dictionary.

Review: The Lover's Dictionary reminded me of a stanza that is from one of my favorite Smith songs, Stop Me If You Think You Heard This One Before, that always made me pause and think:

Nothing's changed
I still love you, oh, I still love you
...Only slightly, only slightly less than I used to, my love  
 When I first heard these lyrics, I couldn't believe that this statement is true. Could one's love for a person really change? Now that I've grown up and look back at these lyrics, I realize what they really mean: love changes, from its fiery intensity to its slow, constant simmer, perhaps once we adapt to work with one another's quirks and flaws. The Lover's Dictionary addresses the same issue in its deceivingly simple sentence structures that compose a dictionary in order to uncover the complexities of love and human relationships.
  The dictionary is based on two central and unidentified character's relationship. The narrator is only known as 'I' and a few context clues lead me to believe that the narrator is a he, however, his romantic interest is simply identified as you. Each word, from aberrant to zenith, defines the language of love as well as show the reader how the narrator's relationship evolved. What I found fascinating is that each definition is told from the point of view and in the first-person voice of only one of the partners, the 'I'. The other partner’s voice remains silent throughout except as quoted by the narrator. I loved how Levithan left these characters nameless and faceless because we can easily put ourselves in their shoes. Though they may not have a concrete identity, the characters are instantly come alive and complex, multidimensional, and flawed human beings. We share their universal emotions of being scared, happy, sad, angry, and a whole slew of emotions as we get involved in relationships.
   Though the dictionary begins in the order of the alphabet, it doesn't outline the story of the relationship. In fact, the story moves forward and backward in time. The Lover's Dictionary gives you the good, the bad, and the ugly side of relationships; sometimes all in one entry such as the narrator writes under corrode.
corrode, v.
I spent all this time building a relationship. Then one night I left the window open, and it started to rust.  ~pg. 64
 Like many relationships, nothing is simple. The emotions and intimacy vested in a relationship are enigmatic and sometimes there is just not enough words to describe what you are going through. I would have liked to have seen things from the "you" perspective, but I thought the book does a great job demonstrating how love isn't perfect no matter how much we try to romanticize and analyze it. It simultaneously messy, euphoric, and intimate.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Words of Caution: There is some strong language and frank discussion of sex. Although the book is marketed to adults, I think it also has teen appeal but I would recommend to mature teens only.

If you like this book try: How They Met and other Stories by David Levithan 
5 Responses
  1. Jenny Says:

    Beautiful review Rummanah, this book sounds amazing. I love how different the setup is with the narrator being "I", and then to have the story told in this format I think is really intriguing. I can't wait to read it:)

  2. Thanks, Jenny. I wish I had Levithan's talent in making the simplest things so profound. I'd love to hear your thoughts when you get a chance to read it. :)

  3. BookQuoter Says:

    Have only heard good things!

  4. BookQuoter: If you enjoyed the small nuggets of wisdom in "WG, WG" then I think you'll really enjoy this book!

  5. BookQuoter Says:

    I finally read this and loved it. I hope you don't mind that I am linking your post when I post my quotes. I chose the word Corrode, too:)

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