Copy obtained: bought it
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Release date: Jan 11th (US)
Challenges: DAC 2011
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?
Other Words For Love is a great debut novel. I liked Ari very quickly, despite finding the start a little slow. It's easy to get a good picture of Ari's personality and issues from the word go. And understand them as well. I don't think that blurb actually gives a real clear idea of what the book is about because while yes, the boyfriend plays a big role, it's not one the main factor at work, or I don't see it that way at least. More than anything this is the story of Ari growing up and learning to deal with things past and present and become her own person. I found Ari easy to relate to, particularly towards the end of the book. She's insecure, weighed down by her parents expectations and her sisters past failures, never feeling 'good enough' at anything or for anyone. I love how her character developed over the course of the book. Ups and downs, reactions and emotions, they're all realistically handled and I felt so much for Ari at times. She managed to irritate me as well, but more like a good friend who you know isn't being smart, rather than outright irritation that would make me want to stop reading.
Something I really loved about Other Words is that it's set in 1986. No internet, no cell phones and a different 'feel' to the book than the majority of what I read. It was a refreshing change of pace and something that worked incredibly well. Throw in an obvious connection between author and setting and it created an atmosphere that I soaked up and loved.
The relationships (parental, sibling, friendships, first love, etc) are all so well drawn! The way things change as people grow up, the impact events and words can have, and the depiction of how things can go so wrong without bad intentions. The selfish comments, the snide ones, the loving ones, they're all a part of life and I really liked how the bad things didn't get hidden away at all. I want to explain some parts of what made this book so brilliant for me, but that would hit spoiler territory so I won't. So I shall finish by saying that this is not your typical first love story, it's heartbreaking at times, bittersweet, beautiful and all around great! Will certainly be checking out future titles from Lorraine!