I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Love and Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan
Published by Penguin on 2014-05-01
Genres: Family, Love & Romance, Marriage & Divorce, Siblings, Young Adult
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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.
Are you looking for a fantastic under the radar young adult book? Love And Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan is a book that I have not seen receive much acclaim in the circles that I run in, but it’s certainly a book that deserves to be on your stacks. It is a book that I went into with no expectations except that it would be a contemporary book and that there might be something to do with love. What I got was so, so much more. Love And Other Foreign Words stars one of the most real, most authentic characters I have come across, despite her being different from most teenagers that I have met. McCahan’s book is vibrant and funny and touching.
Love And Other Foreign Words is about Josie, a fifteen year old girl who is a genius. Josie lives in an upscale Ohio neighborhood with her psychiatrist father, nurse instructor mother and has two sisters who no longer live at home, due to being adults. Across the street are her best friends Stu and Sophie Wagemaker, in fact she calls their mother Aunt Pat, so people assume they are all related but they are not. Anyways, the book opens and Josie is about to meet her sister Kate’s new boyfriend, Geoff. Friends, Josie HATES Geoff. She cannot stand him. Unfortunately for her, Kate and Geoff are getting married and so, Josie believes it is her task to prevent the wedding from happening because Geoff is not worthy of Kate. This is in sharp contrast to Josie’s other sister Maggie and her husband Ross, who has Josie’s full approval. Beyond this, Josie has taken it upon herself to discover what romantic love feels like, so she pursues a variety of romantic interests. Meanwhile, Josie is taking college classes and finds herself obsessed with linguistics and translating words and body language into things that make sense to her.
Josie is such a unique character. I mean, the way she thinks and speaks is just so different. She comes across as slightly clinical in her manner and her speech. However, at the same time, McCahan gives us these glimpses of Josie’s heart and we see that she cares so deeply for the people in her life that she loves. It would be a mistake to write Josie off because she doesn’t quite seem as warm as all of the other characters in this book. Also, what I did not expect was how funny Josie could be. That girl is hysterical and makes some of the most entertaining observations. You’ll have to read the book to find out, but I’ll say that she reminded me a little bit of Jessica Darling and her feelings about the Clueless Crew, only you know, Josie is a genius and totally precocious, but not terrible about it.
Love And Other Foreign Words contains a well plotted romantic storyline. What I like is that the romance takes place over the course of the entire novel and we see different sorts of romance explored. We see the relationship between Josie and Stefan, a boy from school who is not a genius and who Josie really likes, however he’s one that she finds herself constantly translating around. Then we see Josie have the most incredibly huge crush on someone who is totally taboo. Then we see, well, I won’t tell you but suffice to say I was very pleased by how her romantic storyline resolves itself. Truly, this book does a great job of showing crushes, first relationships, and perhaps even true love. It’s depicted in a very sensical, well-drawn fashion.
As for the Erin McCahan’s writing style, going off the blurb description of how this was supposed to be Rainbow Rowell meets John Green is a set up for failure. I mean, sure, yes the main character is like a John Green main character in that she spends a lot of time in her head and a lot of time thinking big ideas and her reaction and relation to other people. However, there’s just something different about Josie. I don’t quite know how to quantify it. Now, as for the Rainbow Rowell comparison, maybe in that there are relationships described in this book. However, I think this book is not a conglomeration of those two authors. Instead, the writing of Love And Other Foreign Words stands on it’s own merits. Sure, the writing is a bit strange at first, at least compared to other young adult that I’ve read, however, keep reading and you’ll get a book that is full of heart and that stands out from the crowd.