Title: Love and Other Foreign Words
Author: Erin McCahan
Pub. Date: May 1, 2014
Genre: Contemporary YA
Rec. Age Level:12+
More by this author: I Now Pronounce You Someone Else
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Josie's older sister, Kate, has horrible taste in men. She's forever choosing unbearable boyfriends and Josie is certain that everything would be remedied if only Kate would allow Josie to choose for her. And then the worst happens: Kate comes home with a new guy and announces they're getting married. Josie can see how horrible he is, but Kate is blinded by love - though Josie is certain Kate must be mistaken, how could she possible love someone as loathsome as Geoff? She's determined to stop Kate from entering into this surely disastrous union at any cost, though her efforts and Kate's preoccupation with the upcoming nuptials are putting decidedly negative strain on the sisters' relationship. Could Kate really be in love with a guy like Geoff? And, furthermore, is it Geoff or love that has transformed Kate into someone Josie barely recognizes? Love is supposed to be magical and grand and perfect, right? And when will people stop telling Josie she couldn't possible understand, as she's never been in love before. Because she knows what love is.... right?
This book is, largely, about love - romantic love, familial love, friendly love, love for words, and love for the musical phenomenon Styx - so it makes sense that I absolutely loved this book and main character Josie.
Josie is one of those awkward, often unintentionally funny characters that constantly offers a witty one liner or sarcastic, smart observation. She's has a genius IQ (though it's rude to bring such things up in casual conversation) and is infinitely curious about the world around her, though, like many, emotions and nebulous ideas like love often elude her. So, she observes and questions and is determined to figure out what love is and why it always seems to turn things completely upside down.
I can also happily report that there are couple different love interests for Josie, which were delightful as a reader and, of course, imperative for Josie's research. I knew who I felt was the perfect match for Josie, but, as Josie learns, it's difficult for the outside observer to connect the dots that form a couple's love and relationship, so I tried to put myself in Josie's position and not exclaim "HE'S SO PERFECT FOR YOU!" on every other page. I can tell you that I practiced much more restraint than Josie would have in my position.
This novel has been compared to the popular writing of John Green and Rainbow Rowell and I suppose those comparisons are apt, but I also believe that this book stands on it's own merit because it's smart, compulsively readable, and oh-so-relatable. I hear it's been optioned for film already, which is really fantastic. I think it'd translate to film well and I'm definitely in favor of more people becoming aware of McMahan's writing and YA contemporary fiction in general.