Title: Other Words for Love
Author: Lorraine Zago Rosenthal
Publisher: Delacorte BFYR
Pub. Date: 1.11.2011
Genre: Contemporary YA
Keywords: Love, Break-ups, Friendship, Family, Depression
Description (from Goodreads):
Ari Mitchell feels invisible at her Brooklyn high school. Her hair is too flat, her style too preppy, and her personality too quiet. And outside school, Ari feels outshined by her beautiful, confident best friend, Summer. Their friendship is as complex and confusing as Ari’s relationship with her troubled older sister, Evelyn, a former teenage mom whose handsome firefighter husband fills Ari’s head with guilty fantasies.
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?
I was first drawn to Lorraine Zago Rosenthal’s debut by the title and cover. It was immediately obvious that it was a contemporary YA title, which I’m always on the lookout for, and including “love” in the title always catches my eye. Little did I know that OTHER WORDS FOR LOVE would end up being so much more to me than a well told, entertaining story.
OTHER WORDS FOR LOVE tackles a variety of pertinent issues, including depression, discrimination based on socioeconomic status and cultural differences, teen sex and pregnancy, and general teenage angst. The novel’s 1985 setting offers a twist while reminding readers that these issues, in many ways, defy time.
Perhaps my favorite aspect of Rosenthal’s debut was her treatment of Ari’s first crush, first love and first real relationship. This novel poses the question: “[Was it] true love… or something else?” In many cases, especially in YA literature, true love is always the answer, but Rosenthal strays from this well-beaten path and battles through the unforgiving undergrowth of that little used second path. Love is not simple or easy or perfect, but it can make us radiantly happy for a time and teach us valuable lessons – Ari’s story reinforces this.
I read this novel at a time when I was feeling jaded about relationships and love, so maybe this mindset influenced me somewhat and fostered a closer connection with Ari… Regardless, Ari’s romantic adventures left me hopeful. I love a happy ending with passionate kissing and whatnot, but the ending of OTHER WORDS FOR LOVE was different. It was still happy, but it wasn’t happy because of a boy or a relationship… it was happy because Ari knew who she was, what she wanted, and that she was perfectly capable of being single. Go, Ari!
OTHER WORDS FOR LOVE is a gorgeous novel and I’ll definitely be reading more from Rosenthal. Don’t miss this fantastic debut!
Review copy provided by publisher.