Book Review: Other Words for Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal

Title: Other Words for Love
Author: Lorraine Zago Rosenthal
Details: Hardcover, 368 pgs.
Published: January 11th, 2011 by Delacorte books for Young Readers
isbn: 038573901X (ISBN13: 9780385739016)
Reading Level: Young Adult
Source: Gift

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?

My Thoughts:
This book is gritty and real.  It felt real.  It brought back a lot of painful memories for me, but yet it felt so much more realistic then so many other books I’ve read.  It was full of the pain of teenager- hood.  Friendships that get screwed up, boys that break your heart, and families that only want the best for each other but make plenty of screw ups themselves.  
The beginning of the book started slow.  It wasn’t that I had a hard time reading or that I was bored though.  I actually found that her day to day life was pretty interesting.  About a quarter of the way in is when things really started happening and I found myself reading as fast as my eyes could go.  I didn’t want to put the book down and I truly felt invested in the characters.  In Ari, who I loved and really felt for, for her family and her sister that had some weird and messed up ideas, for her friends, who I loved and hated at different times.  And then for her boyfriend who I was just waiting to screw up.  This is really a character driven story.  Each and every character played a very important role because they are the ones who influenced Ari’s life.  For the better, and for the worse.  You love and you hate all of them at some point in the story.
It was the last quarter of the book that was the most intense.  I found myself buried in the book with tears streaming down my face.  We’ve all had that first love, those intense feelings that we are sure could never come again with anyone else.  I remember those days in my life a little too well and this book brought them all back.  Unfortunately I had screwed up my life bad enough that I couldn’t get back on track, at least not the track I would have originally taken.  But Ari, I was there with her as she struggled with her pain, her grief, her love, her anger… I was urging her to hang in there and find her way back.  And it was quite a ride, I have to tell you!
This book is definitely for the older young adult.  There is quite a lot of sexual content.  It’s not overly descriptive but has enough description that the reader knows of the different sexual acts happening.  It was done in a realistic way with consequences for your actions included (the book takes place in the 80’s when AID’s was a huge deal, as well).  There was some bad language, but not a lot.  

I will certainly be watching for more from Lorraine Zago Rosenthal.  This book held my rapt attention and felt much more realistic then so many other young adult books out there.  It left me with that urge to call someone and talk about it, or to reminisce about our messed up teenage years.  I wanted to shout to the skies, to read this book people!  So, you see?  It is good, very good!

You can find Lorraine Zago Rosenthal at her: 
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  1. Wonderful review, Candace.

    I couldn’t agree more either. Other Words for Love is one of my favorite reads of the year thus far and one I’m not likely to forget.

    Character-driven stories are so difficult to pull off well, but Lorraine has done that. And the importance and involvement of nearly all the characters is done so flawlessly. I loved it!

  2. This was one I was considering reading for the Debut Author Challenge but hadn’t really read a lot about. After your review I’ll check it out, I’m in the mood for some gritty stuff after the romance and fantasy I’ve been reading lately. ;D Thanks for the review!

  3. Wow, you have 110% sold me on this book. It sounds incredible! I was interested in reading it before, but now you actually have me really anticipating getting my hands on it. I love a book that can take me on an emotional rollercoaster and it sounds like this does just that. Fantastic review!

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