Monday, October 26, 2015

Review: The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan

How does one talk about love? Is it even possible to describe something at once utterly mundane and wholly transcendent, that has the power to consume our lives completely, while making us feel part of something infinitely larger than ourselves? Taking a unique approach to this age-old problem, the nameless narrator of David Levithan’s The Lover’s Dictionary constructs the story of a relationship as a dictionary. Through these sharp entries, he provides an intimate window into the great events and quotidian trifles of coupledom, giving us an indelible and deeply moving portrait of love in our time.
I was intrigued with the premise of the book so I decided to give this one a try.

In The Lover's Dictionary, anecdotes are presented as definitions of words, like in dictionaries. The anecdotes all relate to one another and tell the story of a relationship.

A few entries in, I realized that this book reminded me of 500 Days of Summer. That is, the anecdotes are not told in chronological order and have more to do with the words being defined, or rather the words that are used as the starting point. It was confusing at first, but it didn't take long to understand their story.

Each anecdote or moment varied in length, but they covered a wide range of moments in a relationship, whether positive, negative or just plain mundane. Aside from the beautiful lines herein, and there are many, that's my favorite part of the book. Even if your relationship isn't as troubled as the characters in this book, you can still relate to more than a few of the entries and lines.

My favorite moment, for example, is the one for the word "catalyst."
It surprised me — surprises me still — that you were the first one to say it.
I was innocent, in a way, expecting those three words to appear boldface with music. But instead, it was such an ordinary moment: The movie
was over, and I stood up to turn off the TV. A few minutes had passed from the end of the final credits, and we’d been sitting there on the couch,
your legs over mine, the side of your hand touching the side of my hand. The video stopped and the screen turned blue. “I’ll get it,” I said, and was
halfway to the television when you said, “I love you.”
I never asked, but I’ll always wonder: What was it about that moment that made you realize it? Or, if you’d known it for awhile, what compelled
you to say it then? It was welcome, so welcome, and in my rush to say that I loved you, too, I left the television on, I let that light bathe us for a little
longer, as I returned to the couch, to you. We held there for awhile, not really sure what would happen next.
I found this moment to be absolutely beautiful and if you've ever been in a relationship, it's something that will make you think and remember.


  1. There are plenty of beautiful lines.
  2. It covers positive, neutral and negative aspects of relationships.
  3. There's something for everyone to relate to.


  1. The ending is ambiguous but seems to lean towards a bittersweet one. 

There has to be a moment at the beginning where 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 lovers’ face.


  1. You've ever been in a relationship.
  2. You've been cheated on.
  3. You want to read a book that tackles the positive and negative aspects of relationships. 




Note: This post contains Amazon and Book Depository affiliate links.

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