The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan
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.
Summary: 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.
The couple is anonymous. There are no names provided, but the gender of the narrator is male.
Written as a series of entries in a dictionary, The Lover’s Dictionary is completely original.
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.
Because the story is alphabetized by the words Levithan chose, the story is sometimes confusing because the events are not in sequential order.
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.
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.