Wednesday 23 October 2013

The Lover's Dictionary - David Levithan


The tale of two lovers in a dictionary styled diary. The novel boasts a simple context: boy meets girl who fall in love but hit rough surfaces throughout their relationship. The emphasis of the imperfection of love is scattered throughout the story, leading readers on the same path they are destined to walk.


The structure of the novel was definitely something I liked. True to it's title, Levithan has expressed the emotions and experience of love through single words, much like a dictionary. It changes up the traditional form of novels and makes for an easy and interesting read. Levithan is so focused on setting out the novel as a dictionary that the sequence of events is lost in the story. Instead, readers are given different snippets of the relationship between the two characters according to the words. The moments aren't chronological but adds up to create a beautiful and raw love story. By doing this, Levithan also gives a little more edge to the plot. He can switch the pace and leave a parts unfinished only to revisit it with an unexpected twist later on. 

However, the selection of words in the novel play as a disadvantage. Half of the words don't belong in everyday language and only people with a large bank of vocabulary would be able to know the meanings. If you could be bothered, read it with a dictionary. If not,  good luck. It's possible to get the jist of the word through the context from the passage but it would be nice to not feel so confused sometimes with words such as: libidinous, stanchion and vagary - just to name a few.

Looking past that though, The Lover's Dictionary certainly demonstrates the inability to define love with one explanation. Instead, Levithan must scour the dictionary and give readers a selection of words that add to the meaning. Just one simple word can hold so much and I love that this novel creates that feeling. Also, whilst Levithan provides different words to explain love they don't necessarily have to make sense for every single person out there. That's why, even though I was slightly distracted by the use of "big" words I could also understand that sometimes love just won't make sense. If that was done on purpose than props to Levithan for conveying such a strong emotion just through words.

It's also a great way to convey the flaws that come with relationships. It's never a smooth ride and readers can experience that from the narrator's recounts. There's love of course but also frustration, dislike and just exhaustion.

The Lover's Dictionary is an easy read. It provides an insight into the life of two people in love but that's about it. I breezed through it and there were moments when I felt warmed by it. However, I can say it's probably not for everyone. I've read other reviews and can agree that people who are in love would appreciate it more. It makes for a great place to get quotes from though (just saying). I liked it though. It's realistic enough and certainly doesn't raise hopes of leading a perfect love life.

Rating: 3.5/5

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