Even Stevens’s CBR-III review #28: The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan

The Lover’s Dictionary is a book about the relationship between the narrator and his partner (both of them remain unnamed) and the story is told entirely through dictionary entries. Each word is displayed at the top of the page and each entry serves to both illustrate the definition and to illuminate how that word plays into this couple’s relationship. This book, quite simply, is excellent.

Levithan is able to evoke vivid pictures of his (often complicated) relationship with this woman who is the first real love of his life. Sometimes he uses many words, sometimes very few, but he has a remarkable knack for being able to show the individual issues and quirks between them (something as mundane as putting the cap on the toothpaste to heavier hitting things like alcoholism and infidelity) but also to make them universally relatable to the reader. He has constructed two love letters with this book: one to a woman, and one to words. This book is sweet, funny, sad, frustrating, and infinitely enjoyable.

The book is a very short read, but I’d recommend taking a little extra time thinking on the entries. Levithan skillfully weaves each entry together and his prose is nothing short of gorgeous. I’d recommend this to any reader, it really is a fantastic book.

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