Review: The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan

Woah, I am on fire this month with the reviews! I’m getting through lots of books, I’m in a really good reading place, and it’s just not stopping – which is great. This review is for my Valentine’s Day read for this month – technically a re-read – so let’s get into what I thought about it!


Spoiler Free Review

Title: The Lover’s Dictionary

Authors: David Levithan

Published: Harper Collins, 2012

Pages: 211

Some links: Goodreads and Amazon


Told in an interesting and unique format, Levithan has crafted a dictionary of a love story. Or, A Love Story in 185 Definitions.


So I knew I wanted to read something about love this month. A lot of the books I read feature a romance – it’s hard to pick up a fiction book that doesn’t – but there are lots of different types of love. Sometimes, when in the mood for a book with a romance, I look for something fluffy. This year however, I wanted something a little different – a little more real. And since I wanted to read this book again, I figured I’d kill two birds with one stone and re-read The Lover’s Dictionary.

I really love this book. It’s super short – especially since, because of it’s format, many pages are only filled with a few sentences – but it packs a punch. I can’t remember being recommended this book, I just remember walking into a bookshop one day, browsing the shelves, and coming across this little gem. I was intrigued by the title, really curious after I flicked through, and went immediately to the counter to buy my copy. This will be the third – maybe fourth – time I’ve read this novel and I come away with something different every time. I think it’s because each time I’ve read it, I’ve been in a different place in my life – and love life – and I gain a new perspective, or one definition hits heavier than the others. It was as true this time as it was true the others – and I think it would have this effect on everyone.

The most important part of this book is the format. It’s so new and different and exciting. Each section is very short, comprised of a word and a definition which tells another part of the story of two lovers. The sections vary in length, but are always linked to the word they represent. In some ways this could take away from the flow of the story, but I’ve never found it to. As you get used to the format, you get used to the way the story is crafted and pulled together piece by piece.

The characters in the story are very real. They are never named but their emotions and actions and reactions are laid bare throughout the novel, creating an interesting way of viewing the characters and their thoughts. The story isn’t told chronologically, so you are constantly piecing together their love story, but as you move further through the novel, you see the importance of crafting it this way. Even though there is little actual writing, what is there is so beautiful and truthful and heart-baring, that you end up feeling you really know the inner-workings of both characters. You feel their confusion, their anger, their love and their pain. You feel it all with them.

The only thing I feel is lacking in this novel is an ending that feels just as powerful as the rest of the passages. Let it be said, personally I’m not sure of the ending in terms of plot – it isn’t what I would have chosen – but I think I could look past that if it was as strong and heartfelt as the rest of the book. However, part of me thinks this might be a writer’s choice, showing that a real relationship is not always fast, fast, fast. There are slow sections too.

My Rating: 4.0-4.5 out of 5 stars.

I go back and forth a little but don’t get too hung up on it because I do truly like this novel. True, it won’t be for everyone. The format is different and does take a little time to get used to (something I forget having read it quite a few times); some people might feel detached from the characters because so little – yet so much – is given of them; and some people just want a little fantasy, fluffiness with their romance. But for me, when I want something that conveys a relationship which feels very real, this is the story I reach for. I hope some day you might reach for it too, to give it a try.


What was your Valentine’s read this year? I love stories about love and I’m always looking for a good recommendation. Click here to look at my recent Top 10 Romances post!



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