Book Review: Other Words for Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal

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?

Lorraine Zago Rosenthal’s debut Other Words for Love had me completely engrossed in the story and I stayed up to finish it.

The summary makes this seem like it’s all about Ari & Blake’s relationship but they don’t even meet until nearly the middle of the book.  There are so many relationships explored in this book, relationships between parents, friends, and siblings in addition to the expected relationship with a first boyfriend.  This book tackled an unbelievable number of subjects in a short amount of time: parental expectations, depression, teen pregnancy, first love, death, loss, teen sex, STDs, friendship… all surprisingly well fleshed out.

There was a large cast of supporting characters who were all well developed.  Ari’s parents, sister, brother in law and friend Summer as well as Blake’s cousin, brother & father were all characters who I loved or loathed. 

This book was set in the 80s and it made me laugh to see it on someones historical fiction challenge list – was the 80s really that long ago?  Other than a few references to some cultural aspects of the 80s it could have just as easily been set today.

I would hesitate to recommend this book to “young” adults.  I freely admit to being conservative and believing in no sexual relations outside of marriage. I have a hard time suggesting teenagers read books that portray teen sex as ok.  At least in this one there was talk of concern over the consequences: pregnancy, STDS, etc.  Even as an adult reader there was a scene in this book that made me blush, although I admit it doesn’t take much to make me blush. That said this was very well written and I’ll read Lorraine’s next book.

Content: This is not a clean read and there is quite a bit of content that parents and conservative readers should be aware of including strong language and sex.  Rather than go into detail here please check out the Parental Book Reviews websiter for a through detailing of content. 

Rating: 4 Stars

Source: From Publisher for Review