Monday, March 5, 2012

Impressions: The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan

I read The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan in February for my Internet Book Club. I mainly enjoyed it for two reasons: it has a unique format as it is a story told in dictionary format, and the story itself becomes so compelling as it moves along that I needed to find out how it ended.

There are other positives to the story as well, the prose is quite engaging at times, after all this book is all about "words" and their significance -- not necessarily the meaning of words, but the significance that particular words have for the narrator of the story. There were words that stood out for me, and you can see a few of them here. Of course, as I read along others were added to that list.

It was also of particular interest to me that although there are a couple of entries that are deceiving in their meaning, the gender of the parties in this story is never clarified, and as I read along it became clear to me that the author purposely cultivates gender inclusion by keeping the reader out of balance and uncertain in that respect. "You" and "I."

There is a disjointed sense to the story as Levithan uses a non-linear first person narration, and realistically the reader does not find the end to the story at the end of the physical book. The jumping back and forth between what the reader imagines is the present, the past, or what could possibly be the past, can be disorienting at times.

The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan is a quick, fast paced book. It has some beautiful prose in places with a story that keeps the reader going, and although there are some gorgeous romantic passages in the story be warned that there is also that touch of reality that places this book firmly into the fiction category. Interestingly enough although the format is quite unique, for me, the author walked a fine line. I could not make up my mind about that aspect of it, particularly because the result was that disjointed narration I mention above. However the positives do outweigh my concerns, and in the end I was left with an overall feeling of having enjoyed a good, solid read.

Internet Book Club
February Read
Category: Fiction (Romantic)
Series: None
Publisher/Released: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux/ January 4, 2011
Grade: B

Visit David Levithan here.

ETA: Our Internet Book Club  March Read will be Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones. :)


  1. Great review, Hils. I think you really capture its essence and its less than stellar aspects. At first I enjoyed the way the author sort of strings us along with the definitions and short anecdotes of the relationship, but after awhile I felt it wasn't going anywhere. It was just okay for me.

  2. Great review. Sounds like a book one would pick up if one has the time to savour it :)

  3. Christine, I think I enjoyed it a bit more than you did, but I agree with your statement up to a certain degree. I think the rather beautiful prose that I found along the way tipped the scale for me.

  4. Orannia, this book is a fast, fast read! You can read it in one sitting without even realizing it. However, yes... it's best read slowly because there are those beautiful entries that should be savored.

  5. Love your review Hills!
    It sounds like a very original book :D
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  6. Thanks Alex! The book IS quite original... who thinks of a dictionary as a way to tell a story, right?

  7. Great review, Hils ;) I've been tempted by this book ever since Ames read it :) seems to me it is very unique :) Once day, I'll chance myself :)

  8. Nath, this book is worth reading. It's quick and unique. Vanessa took my copy to read it. If she doesn't want to keep it, I'll send it to you. :)

  9. Wonderful review Hils! I want to give this a try but because of the format, I think I'll need to be in the right mood to read it. :)

  10. Leslie, FYI the format makes this a quick read! I think it is one of the fastest reads ever for me (and lots of other people) some pages are only one paragraph long. I hope you enjoy it when (or if) you do get to it. :)

  11. Thanks Hils!! :) But don't worry. I know the library has it. I just need to borrow and read it LOL.

  12. "The Lover's Dictionary" succeeds so well not because of its concept, but as a result of the beautiful detail and nuance Levithan uses to bring us the story of these two characters and cause us to think about similar words to describe our own relationships and the ups and downs with the person you love or have loved and lost.

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