The good: Super angst plus the then and now timeline makes this a read that you can’t put down.
The not-so-good: Really sad in places!
Why I chose it: Sounded interesting, plus I’ve always meant to read Christina Lauren. Thanks Hachette for the copy.
Setting: Mainly San Francisco, USA
Rating: 9.5 out of 10
Okay. I’ve heard so much about Christina Lauren but never read any of their books (Christina Lauren is Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings). After reading Love and Other Words, I am kicking myself thoroughly. These two women know how to write a story that combines hope, super angst (in a good way), ugly crying sadness and happiness in a package that can’t be put down. I defy anyone not to drop all non-essential life processes to read this book to the end.
The story is about second chances. Macy is a young doctor; she’s got her life together and is working hard and engaged to a nice man. Her teenage years are behind her, locked and sealed. Until a chance sighting of her first love Elliot in a coffee shop starts to unravel all of that. Everything that was left in a box marked The Past is now strewn across the floor. Can Macy forget the mistake that turned their future upside down? Could Elliot be the one…again? After the fateful meeting, the story is told in alternating chapters of ‘Now’ and ‘Then’. It goes back to Macy’s childhood, meeting Elliot and growing up with him. In the current day, Macy and Elliot struggle with their feelings – has too much damage been done? Is safety better than something all consuming?
Love and Other Words is soaked with emotion. Angst when done poorly just irritates me, but this is done well. So well in fact that you will cheering Macy and Elliot on, trying to direct them past the awkward parts. There is just enough to keep the reader happy as the novel weaves its way to the big reveal – what was the reason for Macy and Elliot’s parting? There are small wins, and tiny glimpses towards a future. The secret reveal is done really well. At first I was thinking, “is this it?”, but wait for it as there is even more to come. What’s better is that the big divide between the two is 100% plausible. It’s realistic and not reliant on hundreds of other things.
The writing is honest and pulls no punches. By getting inside Macy’s head, the reader can fully explore her thoughts and feelings for and against Elliot at all ages. The dialogue is true and there is a sweet recurring line between Macy and Elliot – ‘what is your favourite word?’ Pay attention to these, they are a great summary of the pair’s feelings towards each other. The strength of this novel is the feelings that pour from the page. I felt involved in this novel at an emotional level. The characters are beautifully built, real and flawed. If any of Christina Lauren’s books make me feel a tenth of what I felt with Love and Other Words, I’m a lucky reader.