The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan

“I spent all this time building a relationship. Then one night I left the window open, and it started to rust.”

Alphabetical entries line the pages of this book in an exploration of love. Heartbreak, boredom, devastation, tenderness, pure contentment; every aspect of a relationship is explored in bite sized doses. When I first glanced at this book I wasn’t sure if definitions were enough to really create a story I would enjoy, but I admit I loved it from the first page.

“You fell quiet, gestured for me to listen. The sound of the woods, the feel of the air. The wine settling in my thoughts. The sky, so present. And you, watching me take it all in. Naked to the world. The world, naked to us.”

The smallest details of relationships seen to be examined with care and recorded according to their correct word.  Annoying habits. Sweet silent exchanges. Fighting. Families. The feeling of being lost, even when you’re in someone’s arms.

This little gem of a book is a must own for anyone who loves writing filled with beautiful imagery and eloquent moments. I am happy it has a place in my bookshelves.

“Finally, I said. Its over.”

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Love: It will kill you and save you, both

Oh Ms. Oliver, is it your goal in life to break my heart? I read Delirium today because I liked Before I Fall and wanted more. Those of us who are obsessive compulsive readers sometimes cannot help but immediately pick up the next book by an author we’ve so thoroughly enjoyed. Delirium, although quite different from Before I Fall, haunts you with its sad but striking story in a very similar way.

Lena Haloway lives in the controlled society of Portland where people are ‘cured’ at the age of 18 of deliria, or as we call it, love. I was amused how Oliver spins love into a pretty convincing “disease.” Deliria is known to cause anxiety, depression, lack of appetite and insomnia. Even reckless behavior. Romeo and Juliet is a ‘cautionary tale’ that the children read in school to learn about the effects of deliria.

There are fences, guards, night raids and regulators. They can only listen to specific types of music, read approved books, their phone calls are tapped and everything is very carefully watched. Those who have been cured walk through life feeling nothing, caring about nothing. They are matched with a person, marry them, have kids and live out their lives within the system.

Of course there are rebels, they live outside the city’s walls in the ‘Wilds’ and are called invalids.  Lena’s life changes the day she meets an Invalid named Alex. As their relationship progresses, Lena begins to doubt that all the restrictions of their society is actually for their own good.

I once again loved Oliver’s writing, her characters shine with life, humor and emotion. (except you know, the cured ones. They shine with zombie-like creepiness and lack of basic human compassion.) Lena is a character who is good through and through. I couldn’t help but love her (I know, I know, its against the law but still!) I look forward to the next two books in the trilogy and can’t wait for them to come out.

Delirium, is of course, only the beginning, but Lena must make the decision that will shape everything that comes next. She is caught in the classic dilemma between safety and freedom. To do what she was taught is right or to follow her own diseased heart.