Happy Wednesday! Can you believe we are almost in June? I don't know about you all, but I can't wait for summer. I love those lovely sunny afternoons soaking up sunshine and reading a good book in my backyard. This is the time of year when I crave those light, fun, reads that make me smile. Today, I have just one of those reads. I absolutely adored Love and Other Foreign Languages by Erin McCahan. I am not a big reader of contemporary whether it be YA, NA or Adult. However, this is a book that will appeal to all ages, and it is truly one of the best books I have read this year. I stayed up past my bedtime reading this, and when I got to that last page, I had a big goofy smile on my face. I cannot recommend this book enough. I am delighted that I was able to read it as part of the Summer Reading Challenge hosted by Book Sparks. If you want to join in the fun, head over to their website and check it out.
I am thrilled that I was able to read this wonderful book thanks to the folks over at Book Sparks.
Here is my review:
Love and Other Foreign Languages by Erin McCahan
Perfect for fans of John Green and Rainbow Rowell, Love and Other Foreign Words is equal parts comedy and coming of age--a whip-smart, big-hearted, laugh-out-loud love story about sisters, friends, and what it means to love at all.
Can anyone be truly herself--or truly in love--in a language that's not her own?
Sixteen-year-old Josie lives her life in translation. She speaks High School, College, Friends, Boyfriends, Break-ups, and even the language of Beautiful Girls. But none of these is her native tongue--the only people who speak that are her best friend Stu and her sister Kate. So when Kate gets engaged to an epically insufferable guy, how can Josie see it as anything but the mistake of a lifetime? Kate is determined to bend Josie to her will for the wedding; Josie is determined to break Kate and her fiancé up. As battles are waged over secrets and semantics, Josie is forced to examine her feelings for the boyfriend who says he loves her, the sister she loves but doesn't always like, and the best friend who hasn't said a word--at least not in a language Josie understands.
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published May 1st 2014 by Dial Booksoriginal titleCool, Sweet, Hot, Love
Source: Tour Promoter in exchange for an honest review.
Five Stars: A wonderful feel good read that will leave you smiling. A must read! Save yourself the time of reading this review and just get the book!
Josie knows she is different, considering at fifteen she is taking freshmen college classes while attending high school in the afternoon. Her IQ is in the genius range, but for the most part, Josie is still a teenager. She is quirky, precocious, intelligent, and she loves her family more than anything, in fact, she firmly believes she will shrivel up and die without them. When her older sister, Kate, announces she is bringing her new boyfriend over to meet the family, Josie prepares a list of questions to see if this new man is worthy of her sister's affections. Once Josie meets Geoff, she is immediately turned off. How can her sister possibly like a man who talks incessantly about ticks? Josie is convinced that Kate is making a big mistake, and she is horrified when Kate shows up a few days later engaged. Josie is determined to prove that Geoff is wrong for her sister, but in order to do that she needs to understand the language of love. How can Josie show that Geoff and Kate are not in love if she herself doesn't understand love?
What I Loved:
- It's no secret that I am not always the biggest fan of contemporary books. However, every once in awhile I take a chance, and in the case of Love and Other Foreign Words, it paid off. This is a delightful, charming and adorable romance that left me with a giant smile plastered all over my face. This is the journey of a gifted girl as she tries to explore what it means to be in love. I cannot tell you how much I loved this book, and it isn't often that I gush over a book. For all of you contemporary YA romance fans, and even if you are not, this is a book you must read. I absolutely adored it!
- Josie is one of the most unique and memorable voices in YA fiction I have encountered. At fifteen, she is extremely intelligent, precocious and at times a bit obnoxious, but her friends and family love her quirks and all. She cannot handle too much stimulation and she tends to overthink everything. I found her easy to relate to because I know what is like to go through school with the smart or gifted (add air quotes) label. Sometimes it is truly like your classmates are speaking a foreign language, so I got Josie. I loved Josie's witty banter, her intelligent line of thinking and her adorable quirks. She is a character that I will certainly revisit as I think she is fantastic!
- Aside from Josie, there is a well rounded cast of characters from Josie's parents to her two sisters, Maggie and Kate, her sister's fiancé, Geoff, and Josie's two best friends Sophie and Stu. I loved the family dynamic and I so appreciated that Josie's family was a big part of the story. Her parents are very involved with her life, especially her father who is a psychiatrist. It isn't often that you get parents that are fleshed out and involved in a story in the YA genre, and I so appreciated that her parents were prevalent throughout. I also loved Josie's friends, Stu and Sophie. Stu is also gifted and he and Josie have a comfortable life long friendship. I liked the way that Stu and Josie just got each other because of their close friendship. This book is relationship driven as it explores the relationships and dynamics of family, romantic love and friendship. Loved the focus on relationships!
- The main conflict of the story involves Josie's dislike of her sister's fiancé, Geoff. From the beginning, sparks ensue as Josie and Geoff go head to head. There is more to the story than just Josie not liking Geoff, it is about Josie's reluctance to let go of her sister and her fear that the engagement will change everything. There are many difficult moments and fights between Josie, Kate and Geoff throughout as they try to adapt, but in the end, sisterly love shines through. I was so relieved at the way things worked out because I began to detest the way Kate behaved. If you have a sister, I am sure you can easily relate to the ups and downs of the sisterly relationship, some days you love your sister's guts, while other days you don't. I also loved the way that Geoff ended up growing on Josie. Once she set aside her prejudices, she realizes that perhaps they have more in common than she thought. I loved the progression of both Josie's relationship with Kate and Geoff.
- The story is beautifully written, not only is there a strong focus on relationships, but there is also a discussion on languages. I loved the authors ideas on how we use different languages when we communicate. We use different forms of languages in each social society. For instance, I communicate differently with my husband and children than I do with my parents and siblings. Plus, I have my own unique voice and form of language, though my voice isn't as strong and opinionated as it was when I was younger. I loved this theme and it is one that I think everyone should explore.
- I loved the quirky funny dialogue. Josie's has some interesting ideas on everything and some of her thoughts were laugh out loud funny, seriously. For instance, she is convinced that she has consumed a full rat in her lifetime because rats likely fall into food processing plants, and she is determined to figure out a formula to find out the percentage of rat in her food. This is just an example of her hilarity. I wish I could do justice in trying to explain it, but Josie is a voice you must experience for yourself. Loved this girl!
- The romance.... I wish I could babble on and on about the romance in this one, but I can't for fear of spoiling it. I will be brief and tell you that this book follows Josie as she attempts to understand romantic love, whether it be her sisters', her parents', her friends' relationships or her own. I liked that as a teen, Josie was hesitant to believe that she was in love with someone, which is so refreshing. As Josie attempts to find love and fails, the reader can see that there is always someone there who gets Josie the entire way. Then right at the end, there is magic when the romance seems to come out of nowhere and catch the reader off guard, but then it doesn't because I could see all along who was right for Josie, but I didn't think it would come to fruition. When the moment comes, it is sweet and perfect and everything I hoped for. I loved the romance in this one! Loved it!
And The Not So Much:
- I have few criticisms of this one, my first and main one being that I wanted more of the romance. Don't get me wrong, I loved that it crept up on me and caught me off guard, but then the book cuts off at the sweetest moment, and I wanted more. I am a reader that likes to spend time reveling in all the romantic goodness.
- I wasn't a fan of the way that Kate acted during her wedding craziness constantly berated and nagged Josie about her appearance. Kate gets caught up in wanting the perfect wedding, and she expects Josie to wear her hair a certain way, get contacts, pierce her ears and even wear a padded bra. Her comments at time are very hurtful, and I get that family can often say things that no one else can, but I felt that her behavior was way out of line and I thought the parents should have stepped in and put a stop to it. I was also disgusted that Kate would violate Josie's privacy, but in the end Josie certainly gets the last laugh. The sisters do eventually work it out, but until that point, I had some negative feelings.
Love and Other Foreign Words is an absolutely delightful and charming book that I cannot recommend enough. This is a book that anyone can enjoy, and I think you will fall in love with Josie's unique and quirky voice. If you want a book that explores relationships as it tries to better understand love, this is a book to read. Just believe me and pick it up and read it! This is definitely the perfect book for a summer afternoon!
" I want you to write for you and about you, from the depth of you."
"My heart. His is in my heart. Without him, a part of me is gone."
"In someone else's language you become a visitor, a guest---sometimes a very welcome guest received with shrieks and hugs---but still always a guest. Because as soon as you stop speaking the native language of the group, you stop being one of the group. And then you're just alone, no matter who you're with."
"Sometimes people think they're in love when they choose to see in someone else only the good qualities, none of the bad ones---only the qualities they most admire, none of the flaws or obstacles. Good becomes perfect, but perfect is an illusion. And illusions are like all spells---temporary and soon broken. And when that happens, feelings change."
"He's a psychiatrist, which means he's insane."
"Isn't this how people stage their disappearances? They claim they're going to run an errand. I'm going out for a pack of cigarettes. I'll be right back. I'm going to have to learn how to smoke."
"In this family, we like the ones each other likes and love them if we must."
"Love is a huge thing."
I received a copy of this book from the tour promoter in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.
Erin McCahan is the author of the YA book I Now Pronounce You Someone Else (Scholastic, June 2010). Erin’s debut novel was a 2010 Cybils Award finalist. She grew up in Michigan and worked extensively with teenagers before beginning her writing career. She lives in Columbus, Ohio.
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