Review: The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan


Title: The Lover’s Dictionary

Author: David Levithan

Publishing Information: January 4, 2011 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction

Series information: Standalone

Format: Hardcover, 211 pages

Source: Borrowed from my local library

Recommended For: Readers looking for a very different type of novel focusing on the ups and downs romance

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.

This book is more like a set of poems than a regular novel and that is part of the reason that it is so beautiful. Each page of this book contains a different word and a “definition” for the word. The definitions mold together like clues to create a love story with both happy and heartbreaking parts. It shows both the ups and downs of the relationship and as you read you really feel with the narrator and relate to the angst and bliss he or she is feeling.

Though this book is a quick read it is still one that you should take your time with, read each page slowly and ponder its meaning to the author but also if/how it relates to your life. The language is superb, not too sad or too happy but the perfect mix that will really play with your emotions.

It is near impossible for me to explain the splendor of this book so instead I will provide some examples:

Basis, n.

There has to be a moment at the beginning when you wonder whether you’re in love with 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.

Elliptical, adj.

The kiss I like the most is one of the slow ones. It’s as much breath as touch, as much no as yes. You lean in from the side, and I have to turn a little to make it happen.

Love, n.

I’m not going to even try.

Scapegoat, n.

I think our top two are:

1. Not enough coffee.
2. Too much coffee.

I recommend this book to all; it is all things good and bad in relation to love and is extremely relatable.

5 thoughts on “Review: The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan

  1. Hmm…I'm always interested to try out books that are written in unique formats, and I usually end up loving or despising them. I've only read one of Levithan's books, which I didn't love, but this seems like an interesting one.

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