Abria Mattina's Reviews > The Lover's Dictionary

The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan
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's review
Jan 13, 12

bookshelves: bought
Read on January 12, 2012

Originally reviewed here.

The Lover’s Dictionary is set in contemporary New York city, but it could be set anywhere because the situation is so widely relatable. Narrated by a man in a relationship with a woman for two years (co-habitating for slightly less), Levithan writes about the fragile, euphoric, mundane, and precious moments of falling in love and sustaining a relationship.

Levithan breaks the novel down into a series of alphabetical vignettes based on a word from the dictionary. His lyrical prose and poignant use of language impressed me and I would often pause at the end of a paragraph and think, Damn, that’s brilliant!

I loved The Lover’s Dictionary in the beginning because it captured those thrilling moments that come with new love. As the non-linear narrative (I use the term loosely here) progresses, the subject does get a bit depressing. No relationship is perfect, and the longer two people are in one the more problems demand to be confronted. Sometimes it’s small things like leaving socks on the floor, and sometimes it’s big things like a drinking problem or infidelity.

The Lover’s Dictionary contains a love that, while familiar, is not whole. Several times I found myself thinking, Is this how other people experience relationships? It is all about competition and insecurities and tiny offences like leaving the cap off the toothpaste? I wanted to smack the narrator sometimes and tell him to grow a backbone, preferably before his insecurities and self-loathing get in the way of his ability to love his girlfriend. Not that she’s perfect either–if he’s too sensitive, she’s not sensitive enough to the thoughts and feelings of others.

Regardless of what I think of the characters, their human flaws do not detract from the beauty of Levithan’s prose or the poignancy of his subject. The Lover’s Dictionary is a quick read that will get you thinking about relationships and the little moments/actions that change everything.

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Reading Progress

01/12/2012 page 87

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