19/10/12 - Book Review: 'The Lover's Dictionary' by David Levithan

The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan is something I'd been hanging my nose over for a while before I got it for my birthday in July.  It's a lovely little book which tells a 'love story through 185 definitions'.  Each page starts with a new word, in alphabetical order and formatted like a dictionary entry but without your usual definitions, as such.  I devoured it in a total of about an hour divided over two days, and it's such an interesting read.  I've honestly never read anything quite like it and would recommend it to anyone.  Literally anyone.

Levithan's anonymous narrator takes you through a range of emotions throughout the book, which is impressive considering the lack of linear plot and the amazingly few number of words utilised.  I don't think I've ever found the emotions of the peaks and troughs of a relationship from start to finish so accurately and beautifully described, but the quality of David Levithan's writing is staggering.  It's romantic, heart-breaking and just a wonderful portrayal of the lows and highs of a realistic relationship - none of this Hollywood, sugar-coated rubbish.  This is real life; it's messy, painful, dysfunctional...but it's also thrilling and exciting and elating.  It reads like fragments of a brutally honest diary and spans from hilariously silly to devastatingly heart-breaking, sometimes simply with the turn of a page.

Levithan has the ability to make even the most mundane and supposedly straightforward of words mean something beyond what you could have imagined.  And the most impressive thing is the ability this book has to be totally universal.  While the nameless narrator is shown to be a man, the other half of this anonymous couple is never given a name or even a gender.  This book is purely about emotion.  While it details the relationship of a specific couple, it is immensely easy to get totally lost in your head at the same time.  I imagine that if you asked a number of people who had read this which their favourite entry was, everyone would have remarkably different answers.  Because I believe that this book will mean something different to everyone who reads it.  I suspect that if I were to reread it in six months, or a year, or two years, I wouldn't find myself experiencing it the same way again..


Have you read this book, or anything else by David Levithan?  If so, leave your thoughts in the comments, along with any book recommendations you might have - I'm always on the look-out for new authors or titles!