Monday, February 14, 2011

Review: The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan

The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Date Published: January 4, 2011
Rating: 4/5
A sweet and touching modern love story, told through dictionary entries.

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.
I didn't hear much about this book until about a month ago, but with a name like David Levithan on the cover I anticipated a great read. Now I'm pretty new to his books, but his name carries the security of excellent writing, so picking it up was an easy decision.

The Lover's Dictionary is a modern love story told through dictionary entries. So if you are a word nerd like myself, you will enjoy this one. Here are two of my favorites:
deciduous, adj.
I couldn't believe one person could own so many shoes, and still buy new ones every year.

ethereal, adj.
You leaned your head into mine, and I leaned my head into yours. Dancing cheek to cheek. Revolving slowly, eyes closed, heartbeat measure, nature's hum. It lasted the length of an old song, and then we stopped, kissed, and my heart stayed there, just like that.
The way he wrote the characters was like they could be anyone. You, me, guy, girl, etc. Two universal protagonists. Their relationship could be anyone's. Their arguments your own. He left it up to the readers to decide who should fill the two main roles and make it their own.

Though I really liked the style and way it was written, I found that the story was kind of sporadic. It was like seeing snapshots of a relationship rather than starting from the beginning and laying out every detail of what they did. Jumping from one point in their relationship to another, then back again. Almost like the plot of Lost. It may have been complete, but it didn't conclude like it was.

This was my first of his books that I've read that wasn't a collaboration, but it wont be the last.


  1. I really enjoyed this book too - because the characters were so generic and could be anyone. I loved the entry style too - such a quick read, but definitely took more brain power than a "normal" book. There were some seriously funny entries too. Great review.

  2. You seem to be reviewing all the books I've been wanting to read recently...xD

    Certainly want to read this. It looks very good!