Review | Love and Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan

Perfect for fans of John Green and Rainbow Rowell, Love and Other Foreign Words is equal parts comedy and coming of age–a whip-smart, big-hearted, laugh-out-loud love story about sisters, friends, and what it means to love at all.

Can anyone be truly herself–or truly in love–in a language that’s not her own?

Sixteen-year-old Josie lives her life in translation. She speaks High School, College, Friends, Boyfriends, Break-ups, and even the language of Beautiful Girls. But none of these is her native tongue — the only people who speak that are her best friend Stu and her sister Kate. So when Kate gets engaged to an epically insufferable guy, how can Josie see it as anything but the mistake of a lifetime? Kate is determined to bend Josie to her will for the wedding; Josie is determined to break Kate and her fiancé up. As battles are waged over secrets and semantics, Josie is forced to examine her feelings for the boyfriend who says he loves her, the sister she loves but doesn’t always like, and the best friend who hasn’t said a word — at least not in a language Josie understands.

5 cupcakes

Love and Other Foreign Words first came onto my radar after its protagonist was compared to Hazel in The Fault in Our Stars. While I understand why the comparison was made (after all, both teens are intelligent), I’d argue that these teenager’s voices were more authentic.

I absolutely loved Josie’s character. She’s incredibly intelligent, and aspects of life that she can’t discern through a mathematical formula confuse her (especially the notion of love). Josie is incredibly analytical and overthinks everything, and all of her interactions need to be translated from their respective language to the language of Josie. This had the potential to become annoying, but thanks to McCahan’s compelling writing, Josie’s voice was endearing and entertaining.

My favourite part of Love and Other Foreign Words, though, was its in-depth exploration of love in all its forms as Josie searched to find the true meaning of the word “love.” Romantic love is the most celebrated form of love (and the love interest in this story was absolutely adorable), but familial relationships and friendships are equally important. As a result, I was incredibly happy to see that Josie’s family was close-knit and present (even with the realistic arguments between siblings) and that her friendships were strong and supportive.

Overall, Love and Other Foreign Words was adorable, quirky, and laugh-out-loud funny. It was exactly what I needed to break my reading slump, and I’m looking forward to re-reading it on a rainy day.

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