The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan

Summary from Goodreads:

basis, n. 

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 story in this book is narrated by a nameless boy, telling us about the progress of his relationship with a nameless girl. The ups and downs of it. It is a romantic relationship unfurled from start to finish. Although not necessarily told in sequential order. Rather, one will find loose bits and pieces of anecdotes, observations, and comments by the said nameless boy, headed by a word that best encompass the said anecdote, observation, or comment, as in a dictionary entry. 

Along the way, I was able to pick up an idea of the personalities of this unnamed couple and if I gathered correctly, the boy is a writer, shy, introverted. The girl, is somewhat wild, outgoing, and care free. So, their personalities in itself bodes for a tricky relationship, but on one hand, they do say opposites attract. But as in the story, it was indeed tricky. And I wondered, are all relationships tend to be this hard to keep? Do they all require so much effort and sacrifice? See, this is something I cannot completely relate to or fully understand, but only imagine. So there was quite a feeling of detachment as I was reading the story. 

What I enjoyed most from this book is it's unique format. Dictionary style. It was a reading experience like no other. David Levithan is a master of words and I felt his complete and utter love and devotion to it. The stories in itself that may just seem mundane but Levithan tells them through brilliant wordplay which gives them that extra something and makes them more compelling. So, despite my lack of experience on the matter at hand (coughs), I imagined how it would be for the narrator and I got it, the emotions I mean, the bliss, the wonder, the joy, the anger, the sadness, the pain....It was all beautifully conveyed. I have a few favorite entries which I listed below.

This one I found quite sweet, or make that bittersweet. It's the I am glad I met you despite everything that happened line.

"misgivings, n.

last night, I got up the courage to ask you if you regretted us.
"There are things I miss," you said. "But if I didn't have you, I'd miss more.”

This one is just so hardcore I was like: "Yeah! Give it to her!" And now I look at the word "cheating" a little differently than before.


F* You for cheating on me. F* you for reducing it to the word cheating. As if this were a card game, and you sneaked a look at my hand. Who came up with the term cheating, anyway? A cheater, I imagine. Someone who thought liar was too harsh. Someone who thought devastator was too emotional. The same person who thought, oops, he’d gotten caught with his hand in the cookie jar. F* you. This isn’t about slipping yourself an extra twenty dollars of Monopoly money. These are our lives. You went and broke our lives. You are so much worse than a cheater. You killed something. And you killed it when its back was turned.”

This one seems to tell of love, disenchanted. That there will always be both joy and sadness in relationships, just as it is in being single.

I enjoyed Levithan (and Cohn's) Dash and Lily's Book of Dares more but I still think this is a solid one from him. So, I will definitely read more Levithan. 

The Lover's Dictionary is a recipient of ALA Alex Award 2012

Award Winning Books Reading Challenge Entry No. 4


  1. Those are my two fave entries! misgivings & livid :) I loved Lover's Dictionary :D

    1. It was a pretty different read Maria. I love how Levithan's love and passion of words comes through this book.

      We have the same favorite entries! *high fives* :D


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