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Review: Other Words for Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal

O t h e r  W o r d s  f o r  L o v e by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal
Release Date: 1/11/11
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Age Group: Older Teens/Young Adults
Pages: 368
Source: Borrowed/public library
Challenge: 2011 Debut Author Challenge
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Kindle
Word Blurb: Surprising, moving, and unexpected!
"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?"

Rosenthal's heartbreaking debut is authentic and painfully honest. Not the amazing dose of escapism I'd wanted at the time, but a medium which delivers a very real truth. Not all teens who engage in a relationship will stay together forever, as many YA lit books have shown us. (I couldn't help but think of Steph Su's "Tru Luv" Teen Romance post here.) It was definitely refreshing, in an odd way, to get a real look at a possible outcome of teen romance.

Ari was my favorite character, by far. This story is told in first person POV, and her narration made me feel very connected to her. I felt like I knew, understood her, and above all, related with her. I haven't related to a heroine as much in a long while. Ari's insecurities were mine, her thoughts and feelings all mine. That aspect in itself was wonderful. And it wasn't just Ari who painted an accurate picture of what and how teenagers feel, but also the dynamics of her family. Protective, demanding mom, silent-type dad, once a screw-up older sister, and shy and quiet Ari. They all meshed; they seemed much like a real family, and went through serious familial struggles that you could find a part of any family.

Same thing goes with Ari's friends. Summer and Leigh are ginormous opposites, yet they are both Ari's friends, and instead of liking each other and becoming a trio, the two despise each other. It seemed much more realistic that way... Not to mention the changes adolescence brings as far as attitude, self-esteem, and other miscellaneous high school bullshit that seems to be of significance at that point.

And then there's Blake. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous, and incredibly sweet Blake. Seeing his and Ari's romance unfold was pretty sweet, and made me feel happy for Ari, in that she was getting the love and attention and affection she craved. While the final development in their relationship is heartbreaking, I found myself understanding. First love may seem like love love, but in actuality it isn't. And that truth both frightened and intrigued me. Watching Ari's pain and growth, is a bittersweet turn in the novel, and made me feel all the more connected to Ari. I couldn't help but wonder, Would this be what I would feel like if it were me?

Overall, I wanted some long-lasting soulmate mumbojumbo to escape into, and enjoy. But, instead I got a riveting tale of one girl's breakthrough from the pain of the past and the lessons it taught her. I really liked the story, and I hope to read more by Rosenthal.

"'You're good with kids,' he said.
He was next to me on the bench again. His eyes were on my face and that made me edgy. I worried that my mascara had pooled into my tear ducts or that there was an unbecoming smear of lipstick across my overlapping teeth" (150).
"He smiled. This time he used both corners of his mouth. 'Well, maybe it is. You should show me your work sometime.'
I nodded at the same time the sun peeked out from behind a cloud. A ray struck Blake's right eye, and I decided that my lost marble finally had a match" (152).

Thanks for reading! And happy blogging!

3 comments:

abeautifulmadness said...

It looks really good. I really have to check it out at some point!

A. Knight said...

Abeautiuflmadness - I was a little skeptical about reading it myself, but it is pretty good. Definitely give it a chance. :)

Mrs. V said...

I also thought there were bittersweet aspects to the book. I read it back in January and absolutely loved it. I thought it was really well crafted.