November 02, 2011

Review: The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan

Hardcover, 211 pages
Published January 24, 2011 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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 momentdoes 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.

The Lover’s Dictionary is a very short read, taking me less than two hours to finish, but you wouldn’t know that by how powerful it is. I became so invested in the story that I didn’t want to put it down, and I can probably name about half of the book as specific parts that I loved.  

Certain paragraphs feel as though they were written out of my life, and I’m guessing this would be the case for a lot of people who have been in serious relationships. It’s sometimes rocky, sometimes haunting, sometimes beautiful, but always powerful. David Levithan’s choice of words and the paragraphs that followed depicted this perfectly.

I do wish there was more of a solid story. I felt like the ending was kind of up to the reader to decide, and unfortunately when things are left to my imagination, they rarely end well.

Rather than talk more about the book (because I fear I can’t say much that will do it justice), I’ll just share a couple of my favorite “definitions” from the book. It really speaks for itself.

“commonplace, adj.

It swings both ways, really.
                I’ll see your hat on the table and I’ll feel such longing for you, even if you’re only in the other room. If I know you aren’t looking, I’ll hold the green wool up to my face, inhale that echo of your shampoo and the cold air from outside.
                But then I’ll walk into the bathroom and find you’ve forgotten to put the cap back on the toothpaste again, and it will be this splinter that I just keep stepping on.” –page 58

“voluminous, adj.

I have already spent roughly five thousand hours asleep next to you. This has to mean something.” --Page 198

4.5 out of 5 Stars


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