The Lover’s Dictionary – David Levithan

ineffable, adj.

These words will ultimately end up being the barest of reflections, devoid of the sensations words cannot convey. Trying to write about love is ultimately like trying to have a dictionary represent life. No matter how many words there are, there will never be enough.

One of the quickest reads I’ve ever come across. David Levithan’s The Lover’s Dictionary is a very poignant, unusual and refreshing love story told in a sort of epistolary format with the usage of dictionary words. Like I’ve already mentioned in my previous book review I enjoy books that don’t stick to normal timelines and always go back and forth. This book is a collection of memories of a lover and how every dictionary word has a unique meaning for him. It’s a reflection of a relationship gone awry due to infidelity, among other things. You realize that pretty early on in the book. However, the other memories that the narrator has are so touching it conjures up a very heart wrenching love story of two people who were way too right for each other but ultimately couldn’t last.

Having met on an online dating website, and being smitten right from the first date, the couple had my thumb of approval.

aberrant, adj.

“I don’t normally do this kind of thing,” you said.

“Neither do I,” I assured you.

Later it turned out we had both met people online before, and we had both slept with people on first dates before, and we had both found ourselves falling too fast before. But we comforted ourselves with what we really meant to say, which was: “I don’t normally feel this good about what I’m doing.”

Measure the hope of that moment, that feeling.

Everything else will be measured against it.

The book rummages back and forth in the memories of the first date, family funerals, possible break ups, mundane arguments, momentary joy and everyday realities. This has got to be one of the most raw and breathtaking young adult fiction books I’ve ever read. You tend to wonder how so much can be said in a sentence or two. I’m someone who loves long and detailed sentences, this was a sharp realization that brevity really is the soul of wit. Being concise doesn’t necessarily imply that you are holding back.

suffuse, v.

I don’t like it when you use my shampoo, because then your hair smells like me, not you.

Here are a few entries that stayed in my mind long after:

catharsis, n.

I took it out on the wall.


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.

dispel, v.

It was the way you said, “I have something to tell you.” I could feel the magic drain from the room.

defunct, adj.

You brought home a typewriter for me.

Levithan has very intricately put across a story with 185 well-defined words. The sheer emotion and lack of it in certain entries has never been done this beautifully before and sums up everything about the young couple’s relationship. I would recommend this book to you if you’re a selective sap like me and/or are in love.


2 responses

  1. Amazing review. I’ll check out this book.


    1. Thank you, Millie. I hope you enjoy it like I did.


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