Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Review: 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 11th 2011
Pages: 368
Genre: Historical YA
Source: Bought
Find out more: Amazon | Goodreads

Goodreads description:
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?
First sentence:
In 1985, just about everyone I knew was afraid of two things: a nuclear attack by the Russians and a gruesome death from the AIDS virus, which allegedly thrived on the mouthpieces of New York City public telephones.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Why did I wait so long to read this book? I'd heard great things about it, and the cover is gorgeous, so I had high expectations. And for once, my expectations were met!

Other Words for Love turned out to be really different from what I'd thought. I figured it would be mainly romance - the title and cover scream romance novel, and the description focuses on Ari's and Blake's relationship, too. But Other Words for Love isn't really romance, in my opinion - it's just Ari's story of growing up and finding herself. Blake doesn't even appear until page 150 or so. But that's not a bad thing at all - I really enjoyed reading about Ari's life!

I love Ari. She's what's best about Other Words for Love. There's just something about her character that made me love her from the first page on. She thinks all those things I've thought about myself but could never say out loud, and her insecurities are easy to relate to. 

The secondary characters are great, too. I loved reading about Ari's family situation. Her problems with her mother are unique - usually, it's the teen who has some unrealistic goal for her future and the parent who wants them to settle for something more stable, but in Other Words for Love, it's the other way around - her mom wants Ari to become an artist, but Ari doesn't believe her talent is strong enough and would rather teach. I really liked that unique set-up, and how it evolves in the course of the story. I liked reading about Evelyn, Ari's sister, too. I don't want to spoil anything, but what her sister is going through is also something you don't read about every day, and how all of that affects Ari is an interesting part of her story.

Then there's Summer. My feelings for Summer are basically like Ari's feelings towards her - there were times when I hated her for how she treats Ari, and there were times I loved her and wanted everything to work out for the two of them. She's a great, complex character. Leigh is a great character, too. I wish we could have seen some more of her - I would have loved to know more about her story.

Blake is a good character, too, but surprisingly not my favorite one of the story. The way he treats Ari is sweet, and I liked reading about his family problems, too. I go back and forth on what to say on Blake's and Ari's relationship - there were times when I loved the two of them together, but there were also times where I found their chemistry lacking. That didn't bother me all that much, though, since like I said, the main focus of the story isn't Ari-and-Blake, it's just Ari.

The plot moves a little too slowly at times, in my opinion, and I found myself bored a few times. Just in small parts in between, though - on the whole, the plot is great. I loved reading about every aspect of Ari's life; before, during, and after her relationship with Blake. I would have liked to see some more development at the end, though - after her breakdown, I think Ari gets over Blake a little too quickly, or at least the reader doesn't get to read enough about the transition.

I loved the historical aspect of Other Words for Love. I didn't even know this is historical ficiton when I first read the description, and when I did find out, at first it kept me from reading Other Words for Love - I like novels that take place now, and rarely read historical YA. I ended up really liking that aspect of the story, though. I liked seeing what was different back then, and what is still the same today, especially concerning sexuality.

With an easy to relate to, lovable protagonist; complex secondary characters; a great sense of atmosphere; and a wide range of interesting storylines, Other Words for Love portrays growing up, falling in love for the first time, and finding yourself perfectly. A unique, engaging novel. I loved it, and I can't wait to see what Lorraine Zago Rosenthal comes up with next!

If you've read this book, what did you think?


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