Book: The Lover’s Dictionary
Author: David Levithan
Boy and girl get acquainted through the internet, via a dating website. They meet some time later, and are smitten by each other from the first date itself. What follows is a love affair full of tender emotions and drama, including alcoholism and infidelity. This is the storyline of David Levithan’s The Lover’s Dictionary. Sounds like a very common storyline? Yes, it is. What makes the book different is the author’s treatment of the story and his unique way of telling it. I LOVED reading this book, unique narration and writing and all.
The author narrates the story of our boy and girl, who remain unnamed throughout the book, through a series of dictionary entries. They are written from the viewpoint of the narrator, who seems to be the boy, who is reminiscing about his relationship with the girl. The entries are not in chronological order, since memories come and go at random and do not follow any particular pattern. The reader, thus, come to know of the ending of the boy and girl’s story after a few entries, but I can assure you that that does not, in any way, take away from the enjoyment of reading the book.
The 185 entries in the book have been carefully chosen to depict the particular relationship between the girl and the boy. There is a little bit of everyone in these entries, and I am sure every reader will find something about themselves in this book.
Some of the entries are so poignant that I was left sighing with emotion.
Consider this, for instance:
I don’t like it when you use my shampoo, because then your hair smells like me, not you.
There was something about you that made me think of sparks and motion.
Some entries drip with wit and humour.
For instance, this:
I’m not even going to try.
You were drunk, and I made the mistake of mentioning Showgirls in a near-empty subway car. The pole had no idea what it was about to endure.
Sometimes, the author says so much through a single line or a short paragraph that I was left wondering for hours together. The book can be read in a single day, but the entries linger on in your memories for days afterwards.
Like this one:
Trying to write about love is ultimately like trying to have a dictionary represent life. No matter how many words there are, there will never be enough.
The characters are very real, and believable. No one is a saint – neither the boy nor the girl. Everyone comes with their flaws and endearing qualities, everyone is black and white and numerous shades of grey, just like in real life.
This has got to be one of the shortest books I have ever read, yet one that I immensely loved. It has also got to be one of the most intelligently written books I have read. And, in spite of the crisp, to-the-point entries, the book managed to conjure up wonderful pictures of each scene, each person depicted, in my mind. That says something about the quality of writing, right?
I read that David Levithan majorly writes YA books, and that The Lover’s Dictionary is his foray into adult fiction. A commendable first try, I would say. I would love to get my hands on other books by the author, too.
If you haven’t read this book already, get your hands on a copy immediately. Highly recommended.