Other Words for Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal
Published January 11, 2011
I honestly did not know what to expect when I first opened this book but is now easily one of the best novels I have read in a while that is not simply fantasy nor paranormal in nature. The story essentially follows Ari Mitchell’s life during high school and it is set in the mid-1980s. Already this was not a genre that I am that comfortable with as I rarely read novels set in the past. However, surprisingly, as I kept turning the pages, I found myself wanting to delve more and more into Ari’s life.
Ari is an easy character to relate with, even love. She’s realistic, genuine and, essentially, an average girl just trying to live her life. Her family aren’t the richest and certainly aren’t the most glamorous – in fact, they’re relatively poor. So when Ari gets drawn in to the glamorous life due to a new friend, Leigh, at the prestigious high school in Manhattan, I was surprised she remained relatively level-headed and true to herself. I loved that.
Blake, Ari’s love interest in this novel, was a great guy until the “misfortune” falls upon his family and he starts to draw away. That was when his true colors shown through. Throughout the novel, you get this great, seemingly perfect guy and once hardship happens, you find out that he was weak and cannot stand up for himself even for the girl that he supposedly loved. And not only that, but after the few years had passed by, he ran into Ari and even had the audacity to try to pick things up where they had left off. Ridiculous. But at the same time, extremely realistic.
Leigh and Summer were both Ari’s best friends but they hated each other. I understood Leigh but I could not understand Summer especially why Ari was even friends with that fiend. She was shallow, crude and was easily jealous because Ari had found a new friend at school – Leigh – and no longer “needed” her. Leigh, on the other hand, was a true friend and tried to stick by her through thick and thin until she realized that for Ari to get over Blake’s ridiculous d**k move on her, she had to give Ari space to heal emotionally. Leigh thought about Ari and her well-being whereas all Summer thought about was herself and how to get more guys. Both were great characters and well-developed though.
The writing itself is extremely lyrical which made the reading go by even faster. Lorraine made you actually want to know all the character even with their everyday mundane tasks. The fact that this book spans over a few years without seeming too long is enough evidence for me. I will definitely try to seek out more of her books because her writing is simply amazing.
Overall, like I said, fabulous book. I had deeply underestimated it. This book isn’t just your typical first love fluff novel – it is a whole lot more. It deals with life, growing up, the awkwardness of sex, learning how to find oneself, finding out who is real and who is not, and most of all, love and how it can come and go.