Book Review: The Lover’s Dictionary

Top Ten Tuesday! (33)

Title/Author: The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan

Genre: Adult Fiction, Short Stories/Vignettes, Romance, Literary Fiction

Published: January 4th, 2011 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Hardcover, 211 pages

How I Got This Book: Checked it out from the library

Why I Picked It Up?:  David Levithan has become one of my favorite authors, period! And I am reading each of his books! And I just really wanted to read this one next!

Book Jacket Blurb:basis, n.

There has to be a moment at the beginning when 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 lover’s face.

How does one talk about love? Do we even have the right words to describe something that can be both utterly mundane and completely transcendent, pulling us out of our everyday lives and making us feel a part of something greater than ourselves? Taking a unique approach to this problem, the nameless narrator of David Levithan’s The Lover’s Dictionary has constructed the story of his relationship as a dictionary. Through these short entries, he provides an intimate window into the great events and quotidian trifles of being within a couple, giving us an indelible and deeply moving portrait of love in our time.”

My Review of this Work:

This is quite a unique little book, unlike any other story I have ever read.

Told through dictionary-style vignettes, David Levithan creates a romance novel of literary merit. This short (211 half-pages) novel whisks you away into a series of moments that each center around one specific word.

The narrator is an anonymous male telling the story of his relationship with his anonymous partner through a dictionary format. Using many words, he uses them to define his story through a series of “entries”/ vignettes. These vignettes are not necessarily in sequential order, but the memories and entries tell a very up and down story. And this story is both heart-warming and heart-breaking. As a reader, I felt the essence of this relationship; while there were a lot of tender moments, I also know there were a lot of painful moments. He gives away his whole heart, pours his entire being into this relationship, but his partner cannot seem to always give it back. And that is heartbreaking. But, that’s also life.

As always, Levithan’s writing style is beautiful and engrossing. I just didn’t want to put this book down. And so I didn’t. From the very first word to the very last word, there is a raw and honest truth being told, and it is so elegant and poignant and engaging and…just beautiful.

This is a story full of raw emotion, and it is anyone’s story. It’s your story, it’s my story. That’s just the way that David Levithan writes. He pulls you into this story, and he transforms it to be whatever you need it to be. It becomes truth, and that truth is what you need it to be.

My Bookshelf Rating:


A Fourth Shelf Book!

This book is quite unlike anything I have ever read. And yet I found it to be exactly a David Levithan novel. Told in anonymous vignettes, this is a novel about the ups and downs in relationships, as defined by the dictionary. This is a quick read, but it is so poignant and overwhelmingly beautiful. You just have to read it to understand! And it won’t even take you that long! 😉  4.5 stars.

Love and The Zenith,



3 thoughts on “Book Review: The Lover’s Dictionary

  1. Laura Ashlee says:

    Funny that you perceived the main character as male. I didn’t think that it specified, though it’s been quite a while since I read the book. Or maybe it was the partner that was never given a gender. I can’t remember. Either way I remember loving that it allowed the reader to put themselves in the position of the characters. I was just talking about this book last night actually. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

    • alibrarianslibrary says:

      I know the partner was never given a gender. As for the narrator, there were a couple of small details like “you wearing my boxers” and such that point to a male, so that’s what I ultimately saw him as.

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