Friday, April 29, 2011

Other Words for Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal

Title: Other Words for Love
Author: Lorraine Zago Rosenthal
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Release Date: January 11, 2011
Date Read: April 16 - 17, 2011
Rating: 5/5 stars

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?

Wow. My first 5-star novel of 2011! My review originally was just a list of all my favourite things. It's been so hard to condense it into a few paragraphs.

First off, I don't think I've read a novel in a while that authentically covers so many different topics: postpartum depression, relationships with older men, Native people, teen sexuality, and visual arts. Phew! I particularly enjoyed Rosenthal's portrayal of New York in the 1980s when HIV/AIDS was first diagnosed.

I also praise Rosenthal for her originality. Few YA authors choose to write teenage girl romances with older men and those who do usually write the man as a manipulative jerk. I've never read a novel where the man, Blake, was actually an awesome boyfriend. Ari's relationship with Blake was completely realistic for how they dated and their sexual life. I appreciated how Ari didn't regret her relationship and acknowledged that she still thought about it from time to time, rather than "growing up" and carrying on as if nothing happened. Rosenthal's insistence to have Ari learn from her mistakes but still yearn to make them again was heartbreaking. I also loved her accurate account of teen sexuality, how there's more than "just sex" to experience both emotionally and physically, and that there can be serious repercussions. 

I loved the financial and social comparison between the five family dynamics featured in the novel: Ari and her parents, Evelyn and her parents/children/husband, Leigh and her mother, Summer and her mother, and Blake and his Dad/brother. The three girls each started with similar backgrounds and interests but by the end had each become people the other girls wouldn't recognize. The importance placed on ensuring each of the adult characters had their own subplot and weren't just written as "Dad-because-someone-needs-to-say-'curfew'" made each family dynamic more realistic and heartbreaking, especially in scenes between Ari and her mother. 

The only thing I didn't like about Other Words for Love was the title and it's lack of significance to the plot. While I love the phrase I wish it had been incorporated in some way into dialogue or something. 

Favourite Quote: "I thought about when colors had been outrageously bright and the air had smelled incredibly good and when I had forgotten how it felt to be sad. Now I remembered, and I thought Blake was no better than some street-thug heroin dealer. He had gotten me hooked on him and then he'd cut off my supply. I'd heard that addicts would do anything, would degrade themselves in every way to get another fix, and now I understood how that could happen, because it was happening to me."

Recommended: Crash Test Love (Ted Michael), Leftovers (Laura Weiss), I Know It's Over (C.K. Kelly Martin), After the Moment (Garret Freymann-Weyr)

1 comment:

  1. Nice review. I read the first sentence of every paragraph, afraid of any spoilers. :P Since I'm dying to read this. And I bought it. Why haven't I read it yet?

    Review. Copies. :S

    SO glad you read it, and I like that you include how long it took you to read it. :)


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