Book Review: The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan

0SUMMARY from Amazon:

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.

REVIEW:

If there really is a manual or dictionary about love, will it even make a difference? Everyone knows love is complex and complicated. Writing about love is never an easy task, much more define it but having it described by someone who can really write is somehow infinitely comforting. I first became aware of this book through friends on twitter wherein they retweeted those words that I know with not literally the meaning of those words and became curious enough to want to read it too.

This is the first David Levithan book I have ever read and I must admit it has whetted my appetite for more. Rather than complete the book review I’ve been working on, I decided to write one about the book I just finished instead. I literally just finished it in less than an hour in one sitting today, but will take considerably less so to write the review.

5

An entire relationship narrated through a series of dictionary entries?! There’s no way reading a dictionary can be interesting,” I thought. But curiosity got the better of me, and I popped into the net searching an epub file and downloaded a copy on my iBooks.

When I first heard about David Levithan’s, The Lover’s Dictionary, I wanted to read it only because of the clever idea behind the book. I love anything that involves wordplay. I loved the idea that this book is told using dictionary words. Each page starts with a word dictionary style, and that’s the format for the whole book which tells the story of a couple.

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The Lover’s Dictionary tells the story of a couple in short, dictionary entries. The couple’s story is told slightly out of order, and left unnamed by the author, but it’s easy enough to follow along.  A series of random words from A to Z each is representing something about the protagonist’s relationship. Through carefully-chosen words, their love story unfold: how they first met, how their rocky relationship evolved into something more solid, from their first date up to the time they finally live together, the ups and downs of their relationship. The narrator, who is a guy based on the entries is a writer while the girl seemed like an untamed, whimsical and quirky character who seems to have charmed our narrator. But as their relationship goes on, it gets harder for the both of them, and we readers are left wondering if they decide to stay together or part.

And even though their story is nothing exceptional, a love story not all that different from the next boy-girl relationship there ever is, the unique manner in which their story was told gave it such an unconventional flavor and offbeat feel, and it was for this reason that I loved it to bits.

There is not much I can really say about this story since it’s very short. Often, I found myself pausing to really think about the situations in the story, and the deceptively simple way in which Levithan redefines an array of words…even everyday words which are seemingly mundane.

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Overall, I really liked this book. Unique is to describe since this is the first time I read a book in a dictionary form. It reminded me of the movie 500 days of summer (I think most of you guys have already watched the film), not only because of the arrangement, but because of the men in both story and how they were able to survive in a relationship where their women loved them less than they deserve. It is true that the entries were just windows of what is really happening to the main characters, as if I were a nosy person peeking at them whenever I hear something inside their apartment. The feeling of knowing everything with just a short entry is what makes this book amazing. I love how Levithan constructed his entries. Sometimes sweet and sometimes sad, the book shows how the relationship between the narrator and his live in partner started and how it began to fall apart.

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The writing in is beautiful and often funny, too. Wait, let me try again, HIS WRITING IS MAGNIFICENT. I’m still reluctant to call this book a novel, because to me it didn’t really feel like one. It’s very short and took me only less than an hour to finish. Your vocabulary will probably grow a bit. The format is very unique and creative. It is like a dictionary running from A to Z and definitions. The most interesting thing here is that these definitions are not literally straight forward definitions you see in English dictionaries, but short entries telling short stories that the narrator associate with the words. It feels like you’re reading a personal diary. I wasn’t sure that it would be possible for it to have a real plot, since it was told in these entries – but it really did. Sure, it wasn’t a very complicated plot, but there was a plot nonetheless, and I kept turning the pages, wanting to find out what happened with the couple.

Let me share with you two of my favorite entries from the book. These made me feel shivery and fluttery inside and, well, in love: 

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This short book makes you stop and take notice of the words that choose to describe each other, our lives, and love. It is heartfelt, honest, and raw; hallmarks of a true romance. It’s the kind that can make you feel all kinds of emotions. I think it’s pretty amazing how David Levithan uses so few words but the feelings and images come out so different. Loved that! The emotions and problems and events in this story feel so real and are described like they really are. It can go from happy-in-love to heartbreaking to bittersweet to frustrated and then to happy-in-love again.

Another one of my favorite entries: 

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This novel takes more of a real life approach and examines how confusing relationships can get. I wish the book was longer. The ending was open ended, but I like it that way. I like it because though it was open ended, I kind of know what will happen next already. This book is a unique work of art. Definitely a favorite. I’m sure I’m going to pick this book up again to reread, especially in random — just open to a page and read. This book also makes me wonder: if I were to make a dictionary of my own love life, what words would I use?

Nonetheless, my own love life is still nonexistent. Not yet, anyway. However, The Lover’s Dictionary affirms things that I know, based from stories, reading and yes, even on some experiences. Relationships are messy, it takes a lot of work and it would hurt both parties a lot…but it allow me to believe that even so, relationships can be beautiful at the same time. :)

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In fact, I have a habit of skimming it and reading an entry. It is not just a story of two people in a relationship, it is also what it was; a dictionary about love. Whether you’re a romantic or not, I recommend The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan. I’m sure you’ll find a bit of yourself in one of the entries in this dictionary. It is a must read for people in a relationship. I know even in a small way, it will help them.

Also of note, Levithan is one of the authors of Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist, so if that’s your thing, you should check this out. And it’s incredibly quick to read…coming in at just over 200 pages, with one brief dictionary entry per page, you could probably finish it in less than an hour. What are you still doing here? Go read it! Go, go, go!

**All the pics I posted is from the screenshots on my iBooks so that I can highlights those lines in every entries I liked. :))**

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