Monday, January 17, 2011

Other Words for Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal

Title: Other Words for Love
Author: Lorraine Zago Rosenthal
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
NOOKbook, 250 pages
Date Published: January 11, 2011
Description (Taken from Goodreads):
When an unexpected inheritance enables Ari to transfer to an elite Manhattan prep school, she makes a wealthy new friend, Leigh. Leigh introduces Ari to the glamorous side of New York--and to her gorgeous cousin, Blake. Ari doesn't think she stands a chance, but amazingly, Blake asks her out. As their romance heats up, they find themselves involved in an intense, consuming relationship. Ari's family worries that she is losing touch with the important things in life, like family, hard work, and planning for the future.

When misfortune befalls Blake's family, he pulls away, and Ari's world drains of color. As she struggles to get over the breakup, Ari must finally ask herself: were their feelings true love . . . or something else?
The synopsis for this book does not do it justice. This isn’t just some story about a girl who falls in love with a boy and then things go sour. It’s a story about Ari, this passionate, intelligent, caring teenager who loves art and feels this looming pressure to please her family. She does all she can for her sister Evelyn, who is a young mother, while lusting after her brother in law, Patrick. Her best friend Summer is a piece of work, but Ari still loves her. When she meets Blake, she slowly allows herself to live outside of the expectations that normally drive her. She gets lost in this new love and when things begin heading south, she slowly has to find a way to be Ari again. A different Ari, a stronger Ari, but still Ari.

The complexities weaved into this story took me by surprise. It takes place in the 80’s (before I was even born) and the setting feels much more intimate than stories set in the present where technology tears us away from face to face contact. Tying in information about the AIDS scare was also a nice touch.

I wasn’t expecting Ari’s story to pull me in as it had, but as a character, she is interesting. In fact, all the characters in Other Words for Love are interesting. Rosenthal layers each of them, so we get a peek at who we think they are, only to discover that maybe they’re more than we imagined. The story follows Ari in her day to day life, but somehow, every little thing about her drew me in. I haven’t been so absorbed with a character in a while.

Ari’s pain was my pain, her joy was my joy. When she felt the stirrings of love for the gorgeous and sweet Blake, I felt them too. When she hated her mother or her sister Evelyn, so did I. But when Ari felt alone and depressed, I wanted her to know that it wasn’t true, because I was there. That’s cheesy, right? But that’s how I felt. Ari could easily be me, or you, or anyone who has ever felt lost and Rosenthal conveys that so well.

Other Words for Love is so much more than it seems. It’s beautiful and touching and filled with heartache and hope. It’s about life, family, friendship, first loves, first heartbreak, and it’s about growing up along the way. Ari, Blake, Summer, Del, Leigh – every single character is fleshed out and well-developed. The story flows easily off the pages and it was hard to put down because as the time in Ari’s world continued to drift by, I wanted to drift along with it. The ending holds an astounding perfection that left me smiling with tears in my eyes. I was content with Ari's story as it came to a close, but it was bittersweet at the same time. Trust me when I say that this book will surprise you in the best ways, you just have to give it a shot.

Opening line: In 1985, just about everyone I knew was afraid of two things: a nuclear attack by the Russians and a gruesome death from the AIDS virus, which allegedly thrived on the mouthpieces of New York City public telephones. ~ pg. 7

Favorite lines: “Don’t be afraid of the dead, Ari. They can’t hurt you. It’s the living you should worry about.” ~ pg. 15
And this one:
I was sure he meant Del. I thought of the fight with the engineering student and the college expulsion and the STD, whatever it was. I also thought of Evelyn, and I wondered if Blake and I had something in common. We were both trying to make up for things we hadn’t even done. ~ pg. 100

*Page numbers are from NOOK e-book and may differ from physical copy

 *This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.

Find Lorraine Zago Rosenthal online:

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Khadija said...

I swear this book is stalking me! I think i'm going to have to buy it if i hear one more amazing thing about it!

Fantastic Review!

Natalie (Mindful Musings) said...

I'm so glad I read your review of this book, because I was totally planning on skipping it until now. The synopsis just didn't interest me much at all, but once I read about your thoughts on the book in more detail, I think I might give it a shot!

Also, the favorite line you picked out was great. Believe it or not, my grandmother used to tell me that when I was scared of cemeteries as a kid. Lol.

Elodie said...

OMG !! I need to buy this one, the cover looks gorgeous !! =)

Jessica (BookLover) said...

This book sounds amazing! Now I MUST read it. Thanks for the recommendation. :)

Lynn said...


Hearing a lot of good things about this book. It's not one I probably would have picked up but maybe I'll give it a go now. Good review. Great blog. Noticed you're reading Lauren Oliver's latest - have you read Before I Fall - I thought it was really good.


Bere said...

Excellent review, Nikki! I've heard such awesome things on it and I really cannot wait to get myself a copy, all the more now after reading your wonderful review. Also the cover is just so beautiful. I never get tired of looking at it. =]

~The Book Pixie said...

I have heard so many wonderful things about this book and it is high on my wishlist! Sounds to me like there are some really dynamic characters! So glad you loved this one and thanks for the lovely review! :D


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