Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Review: The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan

The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan

Pages: 211
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Published: January 4th, 2011
IBSN: ISBN13: 9780374193683

autonomy, n. ‘I want my books to have their own shelves,’ you said, and that’s how I knew it would be okay to live together. 

A nameless couple meet, 
fall in love, 
move in together, 
and then the hard work of loving each other begins. 

Told as a series of dictionary entries, The Lover’s Dictionary is an intimate portrait of a relationship in all its guises; a compelling, deeply romantic story of two people loving each other: passionately, imperfectly. 

Through these short entries, Levithan opens an intimate window into the couple’s space, giving a name to their everyday struggles, giving us an indelible and deeply moving portrait of love in our time. 

[Synopsis by Goodreads]

The Lover's Dictionary is written unconventionally through dictionary entries detailing the relationship of a nameless couple out of chronological order. The entries aren't definitions, per se, but a passage relating the relationship to the word.

I'm no stranger to David Levithan's amazingly poetic writing style, but he completely blew me away with The Lover's Dictionary. The main characters are the only ones in the book not given names yet I felt so invested in their story.

The story is pieced together cleverly. Under the entry for 'circuitous' on page 55, the main character says that:

We do not divulge our histories chronologically. It's not like we can sit each other down and say, "Tell me what happened," and then rise from the conversation knowing everything. Most of the time, we don't even realize we're dividing ourselves into clues.
 And the narration is the same: not chronological and in clues. We need to take each new entry and think about where it goes in the grand scheme of the story. I like stories like that - where everything isn't laid out plain and obvious.

The ending is bittersweet, the same as the rest of the story. A realistic ending to a story about a highly realistic relationship dynamic.

The Lover's Dictionary is short (I read it in an hour's sitting) and sweet and beautifully written. I give it a 5 out of 5.