Lorraine Zago Rosenthal Other Words for Love
368 pp. Delacorte Press (Random House). 2011 ISBN: 978-0-385-73901-6
Full Disclosure: Received ARC for author’s blog tour
Release Date: 1/11/2011
Summary (From the 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?”
Let me see if I can describe my feelings for this book using “other words for love.” I ADORE this book. I am DELIGHTED by Lorraine’s debut novel. Other Words for Love has ENCHANTED me. Yep, I’m gushing, but this book begs to be gushed over! (And as an English teacher I’m always looking for ways to expand my vocabulary ;))
I was thrilled when this arrived in the mail and immediately bumped it to the top of my reading pile. I knew I’d enjoy this as soon as I started reading; Lorraine’s writing flows with ease. Plus, I connected with Ari as soon as she began describing her best friend Summer. Summer is described as the girl who has it all–stylish clothes, gorgeous hair, good grades, etc. Ari is smart and pretty as well, but she doesn’t always see herself in this way, especially when she’s around Summer. It doesn’t help that Summer ALWAYS has a boyfriend and Ari never does. I connected with Ari because in high school I was constantly wondering when the heck I’d finally get a boyfriend. I had a couple friends like Summer who were often bragging about their boyfriends, which left me feeling, well, rotten and sort of insecure. Ari, though, holds her head high and doesn’t complain. She simply wants to find somone who will love her the way her sister’s husband, Patrick, loves her sister. Don’t we all want that? To find someone who will love us for who we are? This element of the story will hook teenage girls (and adults!) because many of us have felt like Ari.
The dynamics of the many different relationships in this book are wonderful. Ari’s relationship with her mother is good, but definitely strained at times. Ari’s older sister, Evelyn, made a few mistakes growing up. Ari’s mom now looks to Ari as the daughter who will go farther and make something of herself. Talk about pressure! When I was reading, I always knew her mom meant well, but there were times that her mother made me even more grateful for my mom. This tension causes Ari to rely on herself more and become more independent.
Ari and Blake’s relationship is written superbly; it’s very believable as a first-love relationship. They’re completely enraptured with each other, but nervous about making the wrong moves as well. Ari’s hesitations about becoming more serious with Blake are written with care; I remember feeling the same nerves and worries. Ari, even though she’s wrapped up in everything Blake, develops more self-esteem and independence. I kept cheering their relationship on, and even forgot about the telling summary description. Lorraine did such a fabulous job writing Ari’s rollercoaster life, that I know girls will learn from this and respond with high praises. Not all relationships end in marriage, and teenage girls especially need to understand this. Quite a few of my female students have come to me after their long-term relationships ended needing someone to talk to and asking for advice. I’m definitely handing them a copy of Other Words for Love.
I excitedly give Other Words for Love five stars. This is a beautiful book that teen girls should read and teachers and librarians need in their libraries. If you enjoyed Sarah Dessen’s Someone Like You and/or Judy Blume’s Forever, you are sure to enjoy this debut novel. I’m very much looking forward to reading more of Lorraine’s novels. 🙂