Other Words for Love

Other Words for LoveBy Lorraine Zago Rosenthal

Publisher: Delacorte Books
Publication Date: January 11, 2011
Genre: Young Adult Romance
Source: Publisher

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?

Goodreads Summary

The story starts slow – Ari narrates, and her voice is quiet and subdued – I was wondering if I was going to like the pace the author was setting.  Ari very blandly tells about her family: her unbalanced sister, the crush she has on her brother-in-law and her emotionally absent father.  Ari’s passive-aggressive mother sees her as the family’s last hope for success so she nags her endlessly about school while her trampy beautiful best friend constantly belittles her.  Ari’s comfortable, if not entirely happy, in her little cocoon of low self-esteem.

Zago Rosenthal adds layers and layers of characters – they aren’t simply introduced into the story and to Ari, they’re all intertwined with everyone else as well and when one acts, it sets off a chain reaction among the others.  Every one of them had the potential to become caricatures – they all have very strong defining features – but when seen from Ari’s fairly innocent point of view, none of them do and each has their own important story beyond her.

I couldn’t decide if I wanted to flip the pages faster or read more slowly as I got deeper into the story.  The author didn’t shy away from messy or uncomfortable topics and emotions – AIDS, abortion and teen pregnancy, among other things, are parts of the story.  If I have to stick this in the box of a coming of age story, then it’s one of the most beautifully written ones that I’ve read in recent memory.  Ari’s character growth from beginning to end of the story is painful, yes, but it’s also honest and a pleasure to read.

My Summary: I finished my copy and immediately cleared a rare space on one of my keeper bookshelves for it.  Buy it or borrow it and clear time to read it in one sitting if you can.  It’s that good.

My Rating: A


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