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on May 28, 2013
I was fortunate enough to hear David Levithan speak about how he came up with the idea for the book at last year's National Bookfest. A love story told solely via dictionary entries?! As a Valentine's Day present for friends?! Count me in!The concept was so unique that I knew I had to get my hands on a copy. And I did. And I read the entire thing in a single sitting. On my lunch hour. At work. That's how quick, easy and engaging this book is. I'm kinda kicking myself for waiting so long to read it. So yeah, now I guess I'm a lover of love.

The Lover's Dictionary is not only unique in how it tells the story but also because we never really get to know the subjects of whom it's about. I mean, we get to see some of the most personal and intimate segments of their relationship, but there are no names or descriptions of the couple to be found. At first, this was kind of distracting because I spent so much time trying to put faces to these people, but after awhile, I realized that it didn't matter. Your focus turns solely to the relationship and the internal dialogue of the narrator instead of the usual details that anchor down a story. You stop thinking about the people and start thinking about the love drives them. And that's where the genius of the book lies --- in its simplicty.

Visa vie small passages, The Lover's Dictionary reveals anecdotes of love, both the good kind and the bad, narrated by one half of this couple. These snippets are not in chronological order but each entry touches on the mundane and the special moments between the two. We're shown the various stages of their relationship --- from the butterflies of a first kiss to the irksome habits that go hand in hand with living with someone --- and in a way, each and every one of these moments was relatable to me. We've all be there in some way at some point in our lives. I know I've experienced the nagging doubts as well as the euphoria that accompanies a new relationship. And that's what makes the story so compelling. It felt like Levithan was in my head, putting every feeling I've ever had in just about every relationship right down there on that page... only much more eloquently.

And though we get to see the many wonderful things that go along with being in a relationship, this book isn't all sunshine and rainbows. In addition to the good, we're privy to the bad. There's nagging self doubt, betrayals of the worst kind, hardships to endure and that unfiltered emotion that plagues the narrator. It's a very real, very raw, uncensored look inside the narrator's head as we go through the various stages of the relationship. And while it might not always be pleasant, while it might conjure up some tough memories from my own past, it was unfaltering and honest. We learn that love can sometimes be fleeting but it is also complex and oh so worth it.

Food for Thought: The Lover's Dictionary is a sad yet hopeful, raw and incredibly clever book about love and relationships. It's simple and compelling and heartbreaking and swoony all at the same time. The book is compact and easy to read. In fact, it reads more like a short story than a novel, cutting out all the nonsense and shooting straight for the core. For such a fighter, this book definitely made a lover out of me.
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on August 31, 2016
I don't often find myself writing reviews on Amazon, however a few bad reviews irked me to do so. This book was short, and is best for those who appreciate an engaging or instantly gratifying read, so that you don't have to spend immense amounts of time to be emulated in the detail, thought or feeling of the story. This book may not spark an interest with you if you have little or no experience with relationships, particularly the feelings that come with betrayal or manipulation and the 'needs' associated with your significant other despite these traits. This book takes a certain kind of person with certain kinds of appreciation to understand, but I for one enjoyed it.
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on February 14, 2011
abstract, n.
David Levithan has written a novella about a love affair that's composed entirely of dictionary entries. A young couple meet online, have sex, move in together (but keep their possessions separate). He's insecure; she drinks too much; they argue. To find out whether they work out their problems and stay together, you'll have to thumb through his Dictionary.

curriculum vitae, n.
When Levithan's persona ponders aging, he realizes that a career isn't work but love. "When I die, your memories of me will be my greatest accomplishment," he says. "Your memories will be my most lasting impression."

disillusioning, adj.
Back-to-back entries on "yearning" and "yell" portray love as a garden stroll among landmines.

gems, n. plu.
With so many entries lasting only a sentence, the concept devolves into snapshots. How can jumbled anecdotes portray an entire relationship? But then, every so often, Levithan provides an insight: "There has to be a moment at the beginning when you wonder whether you're in love with the person or in love with the feeling of love itself," he says. "If the moment doesn't pass, that's it -- you're done."

insecure, adj.
Levithan's persona is such a worrywart, sometimes you just want to slap him. From early in the relationship: "I was still scared by every gap in our conversation, fearing that this was it, the point where we had nothing left to say."

noncommittal, adj.
He captures the queasy opposition of comforter and comforted: "I don't want to be the strong one," he says, "but I don't want to be the weak one, either."

summit, n.
When are you most in love? Just before the two of you split up? Or when you reconcile? Or does it arrive later, when you recall the meaning of the love you once had? Maybe you never find out.
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VINE VOICEon December 27, 2011
This book, which can be polished off in one short sitting, tells the story of a relationship through brief "dictionary" entries.

We learn of a couple who remain nameless meeting through an online dating service, falling in love, moving in together and getting to know each other. There is an act of infidelity from one of the partners which they struggle to overcome.

The book is of course witty as everything by this author is. Some of the entries are very short, others a little more substantial. Some provoke "aha" moments; some display real insight into the way we meet, court and love. We learn a certain amount, but not too much, about the two characters. And then, it's over.

I guess souffle has it's own honorable part on the menu of any restaurant. But this book didn't really satisfy my hunger. It was, to extend the culinary metaphor, an "amuse bouche" - tastes good but where's the meat and potatoes?
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on January 24, 2012
As I understand it, this author in the past has received success as a writer of young adult fiction, something I generally steer clear of. However The Lover's Dictionary was very mature in its subject matter and understanding of relationships and love. As others have written, this books is wrote as a "dictionary" with a letter with a word describing an occurrence or feeling in a failed relationship. It is not chronologically linear, with words related to the positive occurrences in the relationship first followed by words suggesting the deterioration of the relationship; rather, the book jumps around among different points in the relationship, always in alphabetical order, though. If you have experienced a failed relationship in which cohabitation occurred, followed by cheating by one partner who also may have had an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, this book may hit very close to home. I spent the majority of this book openly bawling, yet couldn't put it down. Tremendous!
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on September 3, 2015
The life of a relationship in dictionary form, from aberrant to zenith, in one sentence or two page entries. The reader is kept guessing as to who is making the entry - him or her, and their entire lives are covered, from grandparents to an apparent affair. Fleeting and leaving much of the story to the reader. Never have so few words felt so much.
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on April 23, 2014
The story is not written chronologically, but rather alphabetically. This is a book that's filled with quotes you can lift and use in your Instagram or Twitter or Facebook. It's like the entire novel is written in Internet meme. (If you read this in Kindle, certain passages are highlighted by as many as 200 highlighters, so it goes to show how "quotable" this book is). But beyond that, this is a story of heartbreak. A two-year relationship that ended because of infidelity--when moving on means moving apart. As the book has said, millions and millions have experienced it, and yet no one has ever given the main character any good advice about it. I like this book a lot, because it teeters on that ache of loving someone so much that it changes you and, in some ways, it wrecks you. Despite being called "The Lover's Dictionary" and despite being arranged alphabetically like a dictionary, it doesn't define love clearly in one sentence or paragraph, but rather shows what love is in all its undefinable complexity. It shows love in its moments of joy and dissonance, of conflict and compromise, of holding on and letting go.
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on July 30, 2016
Very uniquely written novel. My teenage daughter asked for this for her 15th birthday. I purchased it not knowing if it would be suitable and read it myself to make sure it was OK for her to read -- I felt it was. It is very artfully written and a fast read. My daughter enjoyed getting it and really enjoyed reading it as well.
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on September 11, 2012
I really enjoyed the clever format of this book by David Levithan. Each entry is a word and the scene that follows relates the word to the relationship. At first, it seems disorganized since it isn't sequential in terms of time; it's in alphabetical order. But after the first few pages, it begins to solidify.

There are two threads that run through the entries which create the plot that makes this a novel rather then a list of words and random anecdotes. These two threads are alcoholism and infidelity, which lend some seriousness to an otherwise lighthearted picture of a couple falling in love.

-Katie O'Rourke, author of Monsoon Season
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on October 5, 2012
what gets me most excited about The Lover's Dictionary is, of course, the concept. some of the defined terminology was hilarious. some were razor sharp. others, not so much. from a purely artistic perspective, it's fun, unique, & original. i do think Mr. Levithan may have either gotten lazy about some of the "definitions" or wasn't able to fully realize the scope of his undertaking. but that didn't take away from the enjoyment of the read.

the book's greatest marketing misstep is that it doesn't really qualify as a novel, more like poetry - some of the entries (pages) are a sentence long. that's a lot of blank pages to stare at after having paid a novel price. anyone looking for good long passages/chapters, this is the wrong book. of course, even marketed as a poetry book wouldn't necessarily have changed the listed price. but @ least it would've given the prose-phobic a heads up to avoid.

luckily i wasn't put off by the negative reviews. i also think that some of the negative feedback comes from the belief that this really is a dictionary for lovers, meant to define terms universally for anyone involved in a relationship. try reading it with the firm idea that this was ONE PARTICULAR lover's definition, HIS list of terms, HIS take. while i may take issue with his handling of this relationship, it doesn't negate the fact that he's still qualified to have his own set of definitions, as do we all, regardless of our experience or dysfunction @ it. a good example i can use is Junot Diaz' short story, How To Date A Brown Girl (Black Girl, White Girl, or Halfie). it isn't actually an instructional. merely a perspective artistically set up as one. same deal here.

4 stars (that should actually be 3.5) because i think the author could've said way more with some entries, as well as overall missing a chance to have delivered a more nuanced, profound book than the final product.
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