Review | The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan

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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.

If the moment doesn’t pass, that’s it―you’re done. And if the moment does pass, it never goes that far. It stands in the distance, ready for whenever you want it back. Sometimes it’s even there when you thought you were searching for something else, like an escape route, or your lover’s face.

How does one talk about love? Do we even have the right words to describe something that can be both utterly mundane and completely transcendent, pulling us out of our everyday lives and making us feel a part of something greater than ourselves? Taking a unique approach to this problem, the nameless narrator of David Levithan’s The Lover’s Dictionary has constructed the story of his relationship as a dictionary. Through these short entries, he provides an intimate window into the great events and quotidian trifles of being within a couple, giving us an indelible and deeply moving portrait of love in our time.

The Lover’s Dictionary had been on my to-read list for years. I’ve followed its associated Twitter account since ~2012 and found myself constantly liking/retweeting all of their poignant observations about love. When I saw a copy of the book at my local library, I just knew I had to spend the afternoon reading it.

The Lover’s Dictionary uses dictionary definitions to showcase the highs, lows, and mundane points of a relationship. The words were carefully chosen, and I loved how they were used to piece together the relationship’s history in a resonant and, at times, humorous way. It was a wonderfully creative read, and immediately after finishing it, I wanted to read it again.

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