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Magan: The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan

book cover for the lover

The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan
Pages: 211
Release Date: January 4, 2011
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Target Audience: Adult Fiction
Format: Hardcover borrowed from the library.
How I heard about it: I’m working my way through all of Levithan’s work.

: Love is messy, intoxicating, and jumbled, all of which is especially true for this couple. Levithan reveals the chaos of their love story in a dictionary-like format in The Lover’s Dictionary, all entries alphabetized by a defining word.

anonymous, adjective
The couple is anonymous. There are no names provided, but the gender of the narrator is male.

concept, noun
Written as a series of entries in a dictionary, The Lover’s Dictionary is completely original.

depiction, noun
A nameless couple’s entire relationship is represented in its entirety throughout the novel. Sometimes the entries are a few words, and other times you’ll find yourself getting a larger glimpse into their lives via a longer story.

The truth is that this couple’s relationship wasn’t easy, perfect, or simple. It was multi-faceted and complicated. The reality was much more like a real-life relationship. Sometimes books can overly romanticize relationships, but this one was raw, gritty, and truthful.

disorderly, adjective
Because the story is alphabetized by the words Levithan chose, the story is sometimes confusing because the events are not in sequential order.

gloomy, adjective
This is how I felt after I finished the book. See: discouraging. As things weren’t perfect, I wasn’t sure how things actually would have progressed with this couple. I felt the weight of the imperfections.

The story is told in small snippets and isn’t a continuous, chronological story. Often there would be bits of the story that would fit a specific word, and later we’d see the continuation of the story much later on in the The Lover’s Dictionary.

point of view, noun
The entire story is told from the male’s perspective in the relationship. He constantly fights the battle waging in his mind of whether he’s truly happy with this girl or if he’s settling. He wonders if she’s too good for him. I wished at times that I would have known both sides of the story, especially when a few key events unraveled.

resolution, noun
There was a hint as to what happens to these two lovers at the end of the book, but I didn’t feel like I walked away with as much as I wanted. I didn’t know if their story would continue.

While I was certainly glad to have read The Lover’s Dictionary, I think I expected it to be much more light-hearted. I admire Levithan’s brilliance at putting so much effort into how he told the couple’s story. Just from writing this post, I can see how much effort and work it would have taken to write a succinct story.

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August 9, 2012 - 2:22 pm

April Books & Wine - What a clever and creative way to review this book. I think I am going to go in not expecting a light hearted story but something a little more realistic. I’m sorry that it wasn’t the best ever and left you a little sad.

July 17, 2012 - 3:08 am

Melanie - I’m impressed with this review! I am determined to read this book. It sounds awesome, even though now knowing that it isn’t written sequentially is a bit off-putting.

July 15, 2012 - 5:13 am

Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl - I love how you wrote this review!

I’ve been curious about this one, but was holding off because I was not sure how I would like the style of the book. I think I’ll hold off a little longer. 🙂

July 15, 2012 - 1:35 am

Shelve It: July 15, 2012 - […] felt a little sad and depressed after I finished The Lover’s Dictionary by David […]

July 14, 2012 - 6:44 pm

VeganYANerds - This is SUCH a clever review, Magan! I have all of David’s books on my list and I thought they were all well loved but this is not the first review I’ve read that rated this book as ok but not excellent. It does sound like it’s set out in a confusing way but it also sounds original – I still want to read it, but I’ll have a happy book ready to follow it up with!

July 14, 2012 - 8:14 am

Lori - I love how you did this review! I really loved The Lover’s Dictionary, I’ve actually read it twice now. I agree that it is a bit gloomy but I love how Levithan can capture such raw emotions and put them on the page.
Great review!

July 13, 2012 - 7:42 pm

Aneeqah - I totally am in LOVE with this review! SO creative, I love it, Magan! Anyways, at first glance, I also thought this was going to be a super light read, but I’m fairly surprised to see that it’s not. The concept sounds really great- I like how it shows a real relationship, the good and the bad. And it seems like the writing is really neat too, the whole idea with dictionary entries is so neat! Even though this book seems a bit strange, and messed up chronologically, I’m going to have to check this book out! It sounds wonderful.

Fabulous review, Magan!

-Aneeqah @ My Not So Real Life

July 13, 2012 - 11:44 am

Alexa @ Alexa Loves Books - I think this review is AWESOME. I actually really liked this book when I read it. It moved quickly for me, and though everything was jumbled, I still got an idea of the relationship being described.

July 13, 2012 - 11:27 am

Amy - I know exactly how you felt about The Lover’s Dictionary because I was torn with how I felt about it, too. It was a very original concept, and I do appreciate Levithan’s efforts and his writing is amazing. However, I was horribly confused because the story did not feel lateral. Instead it jumped around in the timeline of the lovers’ relationship, and I’m not sure that I like that uncertainty at the end. Still I would recommend borrowing it from the library, too. Nice review. 🙂

July 13, 2012 - 10:11 am

Elena - Love love love how you wrote this review, so creative! Ithink this book was so gloomy and a bit romantic at the same time. I was confused by the chronological order too. it really does take a skilled writer to pack so much in so few words.

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