My Thoughts On: The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan

Posted October 19, 2011 by Asheley in Uncategorized / 6 Comments

The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan
Published by 
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publish Date:  January 4, 2011

211 Pages
My Source:  Library
The Lover’s Dictionary 
by David Levithan

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.  -(summary from

My Thoughts:  The Lover’s Dictionary is a story told purely in alphabetical wordplay, which may sound a bit impersonal and dispassionate, but let me assure you that this is one of the most emotional books I’ve read in a long time. 

I became engrossed in the lives of this unnamed couple as they begin their relationship and progressed to commitment, and then she broke his heart

breach, n.  

I didn’t want to know who he was, or what you did, or that it didn’t mean anything. 

Not all of the word choices and ‘definitions’ are sad or gut-wrenching. There are some in which Levithan paints a picture of sheer and utter happiness. I loved the way the narrator has a sheepish disbelief that she could love him back as much as he loved her. He felt so lucky. 

dumbfounded, adj

And still, for all the jealousy, all the doubt, sometimes I will be struck with a kind of awe that we’re together. That someone like me could find someone like you — it renders me wordless. Because surely words would conspire against such luck, would protest the unlikelihood of such a turn of events…

I’ve read before that Levithan has a way with his words, and I have found this to be absolutely true. This book is simply put…poetic. It flows so well. The structure — not verse, but not true prose either — doesn’t even matter. Nor does the fact that it isn’t linear. I didn’t mind that the story didn’t move chronologically through the lives of the couple. The story moved through time as if the narrator were talking to me, as if we were having conversation on a road trip or over dinner. It was little bits and pieces and glimpses, and all of these helped us paint a bigger picture.  

I feel honored to be able to take a peep into the lives of these two people, even though they are nameless and not real. Reading this book was like listening to a love song-an amazing love song that you listen to over and over and over. It was intimate and emotional and it really got to me on several levels. I read these passages, and then I re-read them. I wrote down passages that I wanted to remember, then I underlined them. As soon as I finished the book, I immediately started reading it again. It touched my heart that much. 

As much as this story is not about me, I feel like it could have been in some ways. There are certain passages that pretty much could have been lifted straight out of my life. Maybe that is why this book resonates so strongly with me? Because Levithan was able to hit on some areas of my life that I’ve never seen in print before? Good and bad times, right there on the pages. I’m not sure, but it felt really strange and exhilarating in an odd way. I would be willing to bet that most everyone that reads this book can see something of themselves in it too. 

Friends, if you don’t read another book I have suggested to you at all, ever, please read this one. It is beautiful, it is poetic, it is heartbreaking. It is happy, it is sad, it is funny. This is a book that I will return to the library and buy for myself. I will read it again and again. I can’t remember a time that I’ve closed a book and immediately started reading it again. I’m halfway through my second reading, and it is even better the second time. 

*This is my first David Levithan book — besides Will Grayson, Will Grayson — and I’m in love.

About Asheley

Asheley is a Southern girl. She loves Carolina blue skies, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and NC craft beer. She loves all things history but prefers books over everything.

You can find her somewhere in North Carolina, daydreaming about the ocean.

Find Asheley on Litsy @intothehallofbooks!


6 responses to “My Thoughts On: The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan

  1. I'm SO flipping happy you loved this one! I was SO surprised at how much I fell in love with it! And you're right, chronologically out of order usually would tick me off, but David did it right! I'm not even sure what made it right, but it was!

    I think I've only read those 2 David Levithan books as well…I need to double check! I do want to read Nick & Norah and I have another one of his on my shelf as well!

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