Other Words for Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal
Delacorte Press, January 5, 2011
Read for 2011 Debut Authors Challenge and A-Z Reading Challenge
Summary from Goodreads:
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.Oh, what a sweet, sweet story this was! I absolutely fell in love with it. Poor Ari, living her entire life in the shadow of her pefect best friend Summer and her not-so-perfect older sister Evelyn. She really has nothing to call her own. Sure, she's an artist, but Mom doesn't think that will be enough. She's basically just moving through life without experiencing it.
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?
Through an unexpected inheritance Ari is able to attend Hollister Prep, where Summer goes, and there she befriends rich loner Leigh. It's under Leigh's wing that Ari develops her own personality, as well as crushes on both of Leigh's cousins, brothers Del and Blake. The crush on Blake develops into a serious relationship and Ari is finally (finally!) happy, but of course it's not going to last for long.
And you really can't blame Ari for being so miserable, can you? I mean, her parents can't really relate to her, her sister is a 23-year-old washed up housewife married to a hottie firefighter, and her best friend is Ms. Gorgeous who can have any guy she wants. (I get that her sister suffers from postpartum, although I don't think that was a clinical term back in the 80s. Or maybe it was, but it wasn't as accepted as a diagnosis as it is today. Anyway, yeah, her bitchiness is justified, but seriously, what mother would allow her older daughter to BAN the younger one from holiday functions? Seriously? Where's the Ari love?) It is kind of strange that Ari doesn't have anyone else to turn to, but I think that unfortunately, that happens all too often in real life.
And Blake! Oh, how I loved and hated Blake! He was so sensitive and sweet and kind and patient and SO UNWILLING TO HAVE A SPINE. Summer was perfect as the not-so-perfect best friend, and I even felt for poor Leigh, who's had her own share of grief and is trying to move past it.
And this is all taking place in New York in the mid-80's! I loved the mid-80s! Even though I was really just a smidge too young to properly enjoy them. I would have loved to have been a teenager in 1980's New York; even as crime-ridden as it was and with the threat of AIDS quickly becoming a reality, I think there's a sense of innocence in that time that we haven't seen since, and probably never will again. What I loved about this novel was that the time period was vitally important, the story would be just as powerful were it set in today's world. Ari's insecurity knows no bounds.
I thought the ending was absolutely perfect for the story. I know some won't agree with me, but I felt it worked quite well. All in all, a powerful debut novel (I must say that overall I've been extremely impressed with the 2011 debuts I've read so far!) and I'm looking forward to more from Lorraine!
Borrowed book from library.
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