Book Talk: Love and Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan

Book Talk: Love and Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahanLove and Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan
Published by Dial BFYR on May 1, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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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.

I don’t know about you guys but, much as I tried and tried and read and read, getting to every single review copy or book on your tbr tends to be an impossible albeit beautiful goal. Love and Other Foreign Words has been sitting on my shelves unread for probably just under four years at this point. Like, it’s been so long that I don’t remember if this came unsolicited in the mail or from a conference or if someone gifted it to me. No idea. Either way, they intended reviews roughly around publication, but there’s something to be said for trying to drum up interest now that this is a backlist title, right?

Maybe, maybe not. But my conscience feels great. There really is something magical about getting to those books you’ve meant to get to for absolute ages, review copy or not. And it’s an extra happy little bonus when the book’s actually good, which Love and Other Foreign Words is.

The first thing that struck me with this book was the voice. I immediately really loved Josie. She’s prickly, blunt, straight-forward, and very literal. She has incredibly decided opinions which she will defend against any amount of disagreement. Josie’s a huge nerd, but she’s not the specific type of nerdy heroine you mostly see; she’s not shy or a complete outcast or unhappy with who she is. While Josie’s self-confidence gets tested during the events of Love and Other Foreign Words, she’s pretty happy with who she is and confident, especially for being sixteen. I love fierce and intelligent heroines like Josie.

The story unfolds in a somewhat atypical fashion, so if you come in wanting a contemporary romance primarily, you might be a bit caught-off-guard. Though the book is about love, as the title indicates, it’s not necessarily focused on Josie’s love life.

The main relationship in the book is actually the one between Josie and her sister Kate, who is several years older and has just gotten engaged. The two of them have been very close but the fiancee and the wedding have come between the two of them, and it’s this that is the central conflict of the novel. Josie cannot fathom why her sister picked the person that she did, and she doesn’t want to support anything to do with her sister being married off to a person Josie deems wrong. Additional tensions arise due to Kate’s pushiness about the wedding: forcing Josie to change elements of her physical appearance for the wedding (for example, requiring her to get contacts so there’s no lens flare off of Josie’s glasses). I would have liked to see a bit more resolution on the latter conflict, because Kate’s really awful about Josie’s appearance without really having to do much apologizing. However, I think the arc about coming to terms with Kate’s relationship is really well done.

Now, there is some romance drama for Josie too. She becomes more interested in love because she wants to learn more about it. She dates a classmate somewhat unsuccessfully and then develops an intense crush on one of her college class TAs (she’s in a program that lets her do half the day in college courses). The final romance of the resolution is fairly cute, but a bit more build up could have made it really fantastic. Her romantic arc is well done, but it’s very low key as is; given my love of romance, I wanted a bit more focus here, but other readers will find the fact that it takes a backseat refreshing.

The title of this book really fits perfectly. Josie has this fascination with language and a unique perspective on it. She believes that everyone speaks their own language, which is pretty true when you think about it. We may use the same words but we use them in slightly different ways. If Josie can effectively communicate with someone, she sees it as being able to speak their language. There’s a lot of neat stuff about language in here, and anyone who’s word nerdy will really enjoy this aspect.

Took me way longer to read (and review) this one than I intended, but I’m so glad I finally read it. This absolutely won’t be the last Erin McCahan book I read.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

4 responses to “Book Talk: Love and Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan”

  1. Dahlia Adler says:

    HUH. First of all, I thought this book was written by someone else entirely – apparently I got navy blue covers confused. Second of all, this is the second book of hers I’ve heard is surprisingly good (I thought the other one was her debut but I guess not?) and clearly, I really need to read her too. I *love* language nerdery so I am totally down for this one!

    • Christina Franke says:

      OMG. I read your comment wrong at first and thought I typed the wrong name and here and was all NOOOOOOO.

      I totally thought this was her debut and didn’t realize she had a more recent one. Oops! But both are on my to-read shelf now, so, you know, someday.

      If you want, I could maybe send you this one? I really liked it but probably not quite enough to reread (since it’s not a mega ship cough cough- you know how I do).

  2. Marianne says:

    Hi,
    I have read the article and really enjoyed reading this book. although it is about language difference but great information. thanks for sharing
    Marianne recently posted…ملف شامل عن فريق ريال مدريد الإسبانيMy Profile

  3. vaping says:

    Hey, there is some romance drama for Josie too. She becomes more interested in love because she wants to learn more about it.
    vaping recently posted…Vaping TrendsMy Profile

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