The Lover's Dictionary, by David Levithan

David Levithan is best know for his romantic and somewhat whimsical young adult novels, including Boy Meets Boy, Love is the Higher Law, and (with Rachel Cohn) the New York Times bestseller, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist.

The Lover's Dictionary is Levithan's first book for adults, and it is no less than amazing. Using words in alphabetical order, the author constructs a story about a relationship. The narrator is clearly male, but the reader does not know the gender of the lover. What one does know, early on, is that the partner drinks too much and has been unfaithful. This awareness comes to us with the second entry, "abstain, v."

I'm sorry I was so surprised you didn't drink that night.
"Is something wrong?" I asked. It wasn't like you to turn down a drink after work.
"Go ahead," you said. "Drink for both of us."
So I ordered two Manhattans. I didn't know whether to offer you a sip. I didn't know if it could be this easy to get you, for once, to stop.
"What's wrong?" I asked.
After a dramatic pause, you said, totally serious, "I'm pregnant." And then you cracked up.
I laughed even though I didn't feel like laughing. I raised my Manhattan, tipped it in your direction, then asked, "Whose is it?"
The Lover's Dictionary is a very modern romance in which the characters meet online and sleep together on the first date.

aberrant, adj.
"I don't normally do this kind of thing," you said.
"Neither do I," I assured you.
...But we comforted ourselves with what we really meant to say, which was, "I don't normally feel this good about what I'm doing."
Measure the hope of that moment, that feeling. Everything else will be measured against it.

There is something so universal about that last line of the first entry. Anyone who has been in a relationship--short-lived or spanning decades-knows all too well that what comes later is often contrasted with the feelings of love's first embrace.

This short book is a non-chronological account of a love affair using words from a to z. It is an ode to love, not by John Keats, but by a disillusioned narrator recalling moments in his past relationship. Isn't that what we all remember? Life is never recalled as a chronology, but as a remembrance of pivetal events and feelings. And some things defy definition.

love, n.
"I'm not even going to try."

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