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Book Review - Other Words For Love

 Friday, 4 February 2011

I definitely need to improve at writing reviews as soon as I finish reading the book so I don't have this mad scramble a week later to remember my thoughts on it.
** Warning Review contains slightly prickly rant about political correctness & safe sex and the opinions are my own **

Title: Other Words for Love
Author: Lorraine Zago Rosenthal
Date: 27/1/2011 AM
Source: Bought
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? (Description taken from Goodreads)

My Review
I read this last week on the urgent recommendation of my lovely friend Jess and it was unlike any YA contemporary book I've read previously not least because technically it's Near Historical fiction for me (what with being a 90's child and all). It really gives you a good look into the social mindset of the 1980's without emphasising some of the periods crazy aspects (i.e. the hairstyles and clothes).


When comparing the attitudes in Other Words with today's standards I made two very interesting observations. The first being that in the 1980's people used derogatory terms that would get your ass hit with a major lawsuit today, with almost ignorant abandon. My being brought up in a society almost obsessed with political correctness made me wince when Ari's sister used the word "fags". I know to some people that's not all that bad but to me it's just something that you really shouldn't say anymore.


My other observation was how bizarrely liberal everyone seemed to be about sex and contraception in the book (although I don't know if it was an 80's thing in general). Of course they had a lot of very good reasons to talk about it with all the fear around the appearance of AIDs and other STIs. But I just don't think people are as casual about contraception nowadays - "You gonna do him? Save your parents the cost of a wedding and get on the Pill" (not actual sentence from the book but you get the idea). Everything is so damn hush-hush these days and if teens don't know how to protect themselves when they get down & dirty well then... they end up on the next season of Teen Mom or Underage & Pregnant.


Gah Preachy Rant over.


Now back to the book - Ari is the one character I consistently liked throughout the book. Although she's kinda naive she is so caring and generous with her time that you have to side with her when all her family starts to give her shit. I'll admit that I absolutely hated her sister for the majority of the book and Ari's best friend Summer slipped into my bad books pretty quickly and I don't think she ever fully redeemed herself.


As love stories go this was a very bittersweet one. There wasn't a clear-cut happy ending, just a leaning in the direction of one. Ari grows so much and you really want her to be happy in her life, thank god that other people around finally realised that as well and stopped treating her like a complete doormat *mutters sulphurously* - Yea at times I really wanted to throttle her sister and on occasions her mother.


It was a very human story, flawed and brutally honest at times. You'd be tempted to ask Ari to tone down the over-sharing occasionally when she talks about her relationship with Blake but her voice is so quietly compelling that you carry on reading right through regardless.


A deceptively mild-looking yet hard-hitting debut novel gives you an intimate slant on the 80's perspective of love and family in simplistically beautiful writing.


My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars


I know that a lot of this review was given over to my views on some very non-book related issues so if people don't want to see this kind of thing in a book review then please let me know and in future I will vent my opinions in a separate discussion post but I'll leave this review as it is like an experiment and if people want to contribute their own views on the issues I mentioned in the 2nd and 3rd paragraphs then leave me a comment.


Your feedback is much appreciated
LadyV

3 comments:

Kate 4 February 2011 at 17:39  

I loved this book so much! Great review and I think it's totally fine to talk about your personal opinions in reviews. That's what makes them different and interesting. :-)

Jo 4 February 2011 at 18:16  

Liked reading your honest review of the book -- and your other thoughts on issues, etc. No problem at all for me to read that in a review. :)

I remember the 80s as being a weird dichotomy of "let's everyone have casual sex" and "watch out for AIDS". The song that just popped into my mind is Salt n Pepa's "Let's Talk About Sex", which was controversial because it did, in fact, talk about sex. Very weird.

Jane 8 February 2011 at 02:32  

I wouldn't know anything about the 80s, although I could imagine that it was a bit different from today. It's crazy how things change in such a short amount of time- although I suppose it's been awhile.

Great review... I'm glad you didn't let your thoughts about the derogatory terms and sex talk get in the way of enjoying the book. This is one that I am very much looking forward to!

Jane
janestoryblog.blogspot.com

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