on June 14, 2004
Naturally, when I found from the back cover synopsis that the story focused on another 16 year-old Sammie, I felt I HAD to read this book and that I'd for sure enjoy it.
I was a bit wrong in my assumption.
Don't get me wrong - it isn't a terrible book by any means. I was expecting more, however. Carolyn Mackler is the author of one of my faves, THE EARTH, MY BUTT, AND OTHER BIG ROUND THINGS so I expected this effort to be just as humorous. I'm glad I read THE EARTH, MY BUTT... before this light read because when it comes to new authors, first impressions are everything to me. This book left me unsatisfied. Yet if you compare this debut to THE EARTH, MY BUTT... you will for sure see how Mackler grew and improved as an author, especially in terms of characters and plot.
Sammie Davis is a once-kissed 16 year-old who is ashamed of her big breasts, nicknamed The Grand Tetons (there's the highlight of the humor right there). She feels inferior to beautiful and brainy best friend, Kitty, who is sexually active and talks of her sex life with boyfriend Jeff. When Mr. and Mrs. Davis decide together on a trial separation, Sammie and her mother pack their things and move on into a tiny, cramped apartment.
Fortunately, before school starts, Sammie befriends eccentric Phoebe, who is basically the most developed and interesting character in the novel. The two bond over inexperience with boys. Phoebe is far different from Kitty, which is probably why they never hit it off when she visits. Kitty grows angry when she hears that Sammie told Phoebe of her boy problems. Jeff has been cheating with the girl who now lives in Sammie's old house! Kitty storms off and heads home with barely any explanation to provide a very confused Mrs. Davis.
Mrs. Davis herself is having issues. It's obvious she's amidst a rough patch and is in no position to care for Sammie. Honestly, she would have been better off with her father.
Like THE EARTH, MY BUTT... this novel deals with self-discovery and finding confidence after a long period of lacking it. "Like a game of hide and seek" womanhood has crept up on Sammie and as the novel progresses, she becomes more used to her body. She also gets kissed for the second time. ::eye roll:: Who's the boy? Her mother's best friend's son, Eli. I would have preferred if Sammie instead realized that boys don't define you and that you do not require one to be happy.
At the end, Sammie makes a promise to herself to make amends with Kitty. Mrs. Davis finally wakes up and realizes she needs to take action in her life and in her daughter's life. Throughout the book, we don't get to know Mr. Davis - he and his daughter's conversations are curt and short. But he apologizes in the end. Naturally, hugs and tears ensue. He tells Sammie that the trial separation is not definitely a permanent thing. Perhaps the less than perfect ending compensates for often bland characters and a somewhat predictable plot - just a little bit.
on March 31, 2001
I was in a bookstore with my friend when we noticed this book on the shelf. It caught my eye, its design, and I had seen it somewhere in a magazine. My friend and I read the insert to see what it was about. All we could say was "This looks really good!" Since I was the only one with money, I bought it. When I brought the book home, I finished it in one day. I told everybody to leave me alone, especially my mom because she was always bugging me about how I don't read enough, and I was reading now, so she better leave me alone. The charachter, Sammie, is so realistic. She feels the same things that any girl would feel. Her best friend is a boymagnet, like my BFF, and it can get pretty annoying sometimes. Her parents are going thru a trial seperation, and she feels like all the weight of her mother's problems is being piled on top of her, since she moved away from her old home and is now living with her while her dad goes to California. I'm only 13 years old, but I am a fan of love stories, and it has a little bit of that also, but not so much it's like the only thing in the book, just enough to add a little spice. The situations in the book are very true to life of and average girl. This book makes you feel, or at least made me feel, that I'm not the only one who feels like this, and I'm not alone with my feelings about how my problems or my life isn't turning out the way it should. It's not a touchy feely book, if that's what I make it sound like. It just tells what Sammie thinks about everything that's happening around her. This book is written beautifully, with great description and quirkiness. On a scale of one to five, Love and Other Four Letter words deserves a 6.
on June 20, 2002
I bought this book maybe 2 months ago and I've read it maybe 20 times! This book is never boring. I loved it! Sammie is a character I completely understand with her love of music, overbearing best friend, loveable dog-loving new friend, and innocent crushes. Sammie Davis is moved out of small town America to NYC with her mother, who she doesn't understand, due to her parents' trial separation. Sammie learns to deal with life in the big city, meeting new people, running the household, new crushes, and learning to back away from an abusive friend. Sammie faces adult problems (such as having food in the house and taking care of her mother who continues to have a sort of nervous breakdown) and teen problems (such as dealing with a friend who takes too much and getting a crush to notice her). She is a strong willed, believeable character. A must read!
on October 10, 2002
Love and Other Four-Letter Words, by Carolyn Mackler, is the story of Sammie Davis and the summer her life completely changed. Sammie was an average teenager, with a best friend, two parents and a dog. Until, one day she came home to find that her parents were separating. Her father was moving to California and leaving Sammie to cope with her unkempt artist of a mother. Sammie is forced to pack up and move to New York City to start over with her mother, leaving behind her house, town and childhood friends. Sammie believes this move will be the death of her, until she finds that change is not always a bad thing. New York brings about a new Sammie Davis. One who learns the definition of a true best friend, how to make the best of a broken home and most importantly how to love.
This book is great for 5th grade or above.You can use this book as a basis for a study of relationships with parents, friends, etc. As well as how to cope with changes from divorce to dealing with depression.
on November 29, 2000
I'm actually an 18 yr. old reader from Chagrin Falls, OH, but they didnt hav 18 as a choice. If anyone else figured out how to do that, well, lets just say i'm extremely exhausted and didnt want to take the time to figure it out ;-) Okay, here goes my review (for the 3rd time...my other reviews never got posted!)
There I was walking around the Borders bookstore of Solon Ohio, looking for the little girl I had just lost (I'm a nanny.) As I was heading towards the childrens section, a book cover caught my eye in the young adult area. Instead of continuing my search for Lissy (the little girl I mentioned) I stopped to take a look at this book. (No, i'm really not a bad nanny, i just figured she had to be around the store somewhere...there isnt a high crime rate in Solon, so I figured nothing bad could have happened.) Okay back to my review! I picked up the book an admired the bright green and pink cover with a daisy printed inside a guitar case. I know they say you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, but in this case...i did. I decided to grab a cup of ginseng peppermint tea (they were out of cinnamon apple) an take this quiet opportunity to read. As soon as I opened the cover i was intrigued. You see, my parents recently got divorced so i moved to Ithaca, NY for the summer to live with my sister. This book mentioned Ithaca so many times that I was constantly thinking to myself, "Oh, i was there," or, "Oh my goodness, I went swimming in Buttermilk Falls too." It was just so ironic for me to be picking up this book just because I liked the cover and then discovering what it was about! I mean you have this girl, Sammie, who lived in Ithaca all her life and then had to move because her parents were separating. Sound familiar??? It sure did to me! At this point i was having a hard time with everything that was going on with my parents that this book was a god-send to me. It helped to read that it was normal to be going through all this and to have these feelings. Carolyn Mackler is a wonderful author and a wonderful person. Her book taught me how to be stronger. Sammie had to fight for her self worth so often that I realized I never was, and that I needed too. If you haven't read Carolyn's book yet, than you better hurry up and get going. It'll be the best thing you have ever done. Thankyou Carolyn for making me a better person and for instilling the idea in my head that I am worth something. And all my parents' fighting couldnt change that! Love Erin
on July 24, 2003
I'm a sucker for good titles so as expected this was no different. My judging a book by its cover (and title) got me into deep shades of utter boredom in the past. However, thankfully, this one wasn't dreadful.
Love and Other Four-Letter Words is one of those multi-problemed teenage stories. Problems in family, friends, crushes, and getting a high-kick in hormones is ever present. Tackled pretty good even with the occasional teenagers-can-only-understand references.
Although this is not to get all worked up, I enjoyed the book and am certain many out there will, too.
on March 23, 2003
Sixteen-year old Sammie Davis is smack-dab in the middle of a full-blown crisis. Not only have her parents (whom she felt would "always" stay together) divorced; her once-best-friend father is now journeying out west to complete a university sabbatical (far from their home state of New York) and Sammie is to live with her mother in New York City, as her mother attempts to finish an art degree. Sammie boils with resentment. What's she to do with a mother who's hooked on self-esteem books and in the depths of depression over her divorce? What about her almost friendless, boring existence in NYC? What to do about former "best-friend-forever", Kitty Lundquist, the popularity queen whose selfishness Sammie is finding more and more annoying, especially since Sammie has now made friends with quirky, loyal, and fun Phoebe? And last, yet far, far from least, what should Sammie do about her growing attraction to her mother best friend's son, the guitar-playing, tree-hugging Eli?
OK, good news first. The best thing about this book is that Carolyn Mackler truly does seem to identify with teenagers and create a fairly true-to-life character. With the exception of the discussion about and the actual dealing with boy/boyfriend troubles, I understood what Sammie was going through and found that I identified with many of her experiences. (I don't have a boyfriend; too happy and busy for one, thank you very much :-)). Furthermore, Mackler's humor, infused throughout the character of Sammie, was REALLY funny. For example, how can you not laugh when Sammie refers to her chest as the "Grand Tetons" and likens her popular friend to a "sports car" and herself to a "Ford Taurus?" But despite these solid aspects of "Love and Other Four-Letter Words," the was a major problem at the root of the story-it was incredibly cliched. With other "I'm-just-an-ordinary-teenager-but-I-can-be-the-heroine-of-a-book" stories around (think Louise Rennison's "Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging," Meg Cabot's "The Princess Diaries," and Joan Bauer's "Hope Was Here"), this book really did just seem like more of the same. It is truly one of those books that I will probably not even remember six months from now, simply because it is soooooo similar to soooo much of the other pulp that is said to be young adult "literature." Realistic main character, occasional humor...yet too much "vanilla" for me!
on May 18, 2001
Recently my friend and I were looking through the young adult section of my library, and happened to come upon this book. The title (Love and Other Four-Letter Words) was interesting enough, and my friend decided to check it out. Next thing I know, I'm borrowing this book from her after picking it up at her house and not being able to put it down! The book is wonderful, fully encompassing the teen age experience- insecurity, crushes, parent troubles, you know all those things a teenager goes through!- and shares funny and true to heart feelings of someone who could be you or your best friend. I found myself cheering Sammie on, and seeing her grow gave me hope that I can too! I highly suggest you read this book, and hope that you share the same enjoyment that I did!
on February 14, 2002
Sixteen-year-old Sammie Davis has never been close to her mother. She's always been what you'd call a "Daddy's Girl". But things are about to change.
Sammie's parents decide to try a trial separation. So, Sammie's father leaves for California, and Sammie and her mother, along with Moxie (Sammie's dog) move to New York City. Where her mother lived before she met her father. Suddenly Sammie's whole life has been flipped upside down. She's now living in a 2 bedroom hole in the wall apartment, and is forced to walk through New York everyday leaving her with blisters. Sammie's only sanctuary away from her mother and her problems is the dog park where she takes Moxie every day, and the friendship with a new girl who knows what kind of dog a person is.
This is a hilarious book, and I think many teens will be able to identify with the main character Sammie. I recommend this book to all fans of "Sloppy Firsts".
on April 1, 2002
Love and Other Four Letter Words is a story about love, growth, change, but mostly life. Sammie Davis (the main character) moves with her mother to New York City because her parents are in a trial separation. Sammie is a strong chatacter that many girls--including me--can identify with. She learns about love--the good and bad. Her best friend, Kitty, is "experienced" with a boy who ends up cheating on her. In the beginning, Sammie wishes she could be more like Kitty, but as the novel progresses she and Kitty break apart a lot more. Read this enchanting book to find out the rest!