The Lover’s Dictionary

David Levithan

The Lover's Dictionary
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The Lover’s Dictionary

David Levithan

Autonomy, n. I want my books to have their own shelves, you said, and that’s how I knew it would be okay to live together.

A nameless couple meet, fall in love, move in together, and then the hard work of loving each begins.

Told as a series of dictionary entries, The Lover’s Dictionary is an intimate portrait of a relationship in all its guises; a compelling, deeply romantic story of two people loving each other: passionately, imperfectly.

Through these short entries, Levithan opens an intimate window into the couple’s space, giving a name to their everyday struggles, giving us an indelible and deeply moving portrait of love in our time.


This is the story of a relationship, beautifully and unusually told. The Lover’s Dictionary is an alphabetical novel, with each dictionary entry a glimpse into the lives of two lovers. Some of the entries are just a few lines long; others run for pages. There are telling conversations, long-buried memories, everyday moments of beauty, mundane interactions, and ruminations about the big issues in life and love. The result is an extremely moving novel. Levithan has very cleverly imbued the story with both universal and specific aspects, leading me to have numerous ‘oh I know that feeling!’ moments while reading.

From a simple framework, Levithan has crafted a complex, cohesive and poetic story. The writing is so good, I reread some entries several times to appreciate the magical play of words and ideas. The entries are not chronological, so there are shades of the end at the beginning, and vice versa, leading to a sense of intrigue as you turn the pages, desperate to see the full picture and know the couple’s fate.

Leanne Hall is from Readings Carlton and is the author of *This is Shyness*.

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