Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Review of The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan

The Lover's Dictionary 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.

(Summary from GoodReads) 

For those of you who don’t know, I have a sappy side.  A side that likes happy endings and sometimes cries over chick flicks.  Being the sap that I am, picking up a book with the title The Lover’s Dictionary seemed like a no brainer to me.  I have to admit, the writing in this book is gorgeous, but the plot isn’t what I was hoping for.

Boy Meets Boy was my first and thus far only other David Levithan book.  In addition to being a sweet high school romance, this novel showcases Levithan’s ability to create atmosphere and characters.  The Lover’s Dictionary is actually written for adults, however, and is filled with lyrical prose. I’ve come to always expect quality from Leivthan, but given how different this is from Boy Meets Boy, I was pleasantly surprised by how good it was.

The format of this book is quite literally like a dictionary, just without all of the words a regular dictionary would have.  It’s quite an inventive idea, and I can see why it took off.  There is a connecting plot throughout the novel, although the definitions almost read like vignettes. When I got to the end, I was expecting a different tone, and it felt as though Levithan suddenly decided to take a sharp turn in terms of tone and leave us hanging.  It wasn’t awful, but I would have liked it better if either the tone was different or the definitions were actually vignettes and not part of one story.

I just didn’t get this book.  It had it’s beautiful moments, but I don’t understand why it ended the way it did.  I wanted to adore The Lover’s Dictionary, but it turned out to be another title to add to list of books that’s good, not great.

Disclosure: I purchased a copy of this book.

Other reviews:
All About {N}
Books, Sweets and Other Treats
Hitting On Girls In Bookstores


  1. I have never read any of David Levithan's books. I really need to, and lately I keep hearing how wonderful Every Day is. But this one seems interesting too.

  2. You should really try Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist or Naomi & Ely's No Kiss List, they're written with Rachel Cohn and were my first introduction to David Levithan. Also if you enjoyed Boy meets Boy, I think you'd appreciate them more than The Lover's Dictionary.



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