Sunday, July 10, 2011

I Dare You Not to Fall in Love

The Lover's Dictionary: A Novel
I had the honor of seeing David Levithan at Oblong Books in Rhinebeck, NY this week. In fact, I survived nearly poking a hole in my gas tank, a very frustrated bout of roadside sobbing, and some ill wishes toward a local farm that left a veritable boulder in the middle of the road and was driving a tractor on the other side, causing me to ride over the boulder, in order to get to Oblong that night to see Libba Bray, Michael Northrop, David Levithan and E. Archer. While I was there, I had such a great time listening to these four YA authors, I picked up some of their books I hadn't read yet, including Levithan's Lover's Dictionary. I am so glad I survived such nonsense and got there. It was an amazing night and so far the books I snagged ROCK!

"balk, v.
I was the one who said we should live together. And even as I was doing it, I knew this would mean I would be the one to blame if it all went wrong. Then I consoled myself with this: if it all went wrong, the last thing I'd care about was who was to blame for moving in together."

"macabre, adj.
If you ever need proof that I love you, the fact that I allowed you to dress me up as a dead baby Jesus for Halloween should do it. Although, I suppose it would be even better proof if it hadn't been Halloween."

Lover's Dictionary is a strange book. It isn't your traditional novel by any means. In fact, it is arranged much like a dictionary with words A-Z listed at the top of the page. Then after the word and part of speech is a short story, reflection, or thought based off that word. All the "entries" center around the anonymous narrator's relationship. The beauty of this story is how honest, real, and amazing the relationship is. This isn't your average "romance" novel. This is a relationship in every real meaning of the term. It chronicles their meeting, their first few dates, realizing they love one another, moving in together, infidelity, and grief. The insecurities found in any relationship are described in such a real way it made me laugh, cry, and miss my fiance. This book is hard to describe because the impact it will have on you is so unexpected and heartwarming, you can't categorize it.

As I was reading this book, I knew exactly what I was going to do with it. I have a student who will be a senior and plans to take the SATs again. She has trouble with new vocabulary out of context, but it is hard to find a bunch of SAT vocabulary in one place. She is also very romantic and would love this story. I plan to take this book, have her read 3-4 entries a night, make a vocab card for the words, and then write her own entries for the words. I have a great feeling this will be a huge hit on so many different levels! I can't wait!

There is some references to intimacy in the book, but it isn't anything graphic. I think the relationship is clearly a mature relationship, but since this is actually adult fiction, that is understood. Therefore, I would only use this book with 11th and 12th grade students who were mature enough for the content (although the content is relatively tame). I just can't wait to share this book with everyone I can get to read it. It was so beautiful and sad at the same time. It was like Levithan looked right into all our relationships and splattered them on the pages! You won't be able to put this story down!

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