BWW Review: LOVE AND OTHER WORDS by Christina Lauren
"There's an intensity between us that has always been there. It used to make me trust that he's my person, and I'm his. And now, he's left his girlfriend for it, I've left my fiancé, but in truth, we've been in touch for a single month after eleven years in the wilderness. His best friend in the other room is a stranger to me, and the woman who just left knows more about Elliot's heartbreak than I do. We are still so messy." ~LOVE AND OTHER WORDS
Today, New York Times Best Selling Author Team Christina Lauren release their latest novel, LOVE AND OTHER WORDS.
BroadwayWorld recently reviewed the duo's novel ROOMIES, centered around musicals and Broadway, as well as sat down to chat with them about the musical they created for ROOMIES.
The duo's new novel is told in both the past and the present, revolving around the relationship by two people who grew up together and went from friends to first loves, then were separated for ten years and are now discovering one another anew.
Macy Sorensen's mother died when she was younger, and her father purchased a vacation home for the two to travel to on weekends to take a break from school and work. Macy quickly befriends the boy next door, Elliot Petropoulos, and always looks forwards to her weekend visits. Over the years, the two grow closer, and finally start dating in high school. One night, something goes horribly wrong and the two don't see one another again for ten years. Neither has ever gotten completely over the other, and running into one another as adults has rekindled all the fondness and frustration of the past. Can the two make amends now, or are they destined to remain on separate paths forever?
Macy works in pediatrics and has spent a long time getting where she wants to be in life. She enjoys her job and is finally ready to settle down. She's finally engaged and able to move on from the breakup that destroyed her ability to date seriously throughout the years. When she runs into her ex Elliot, her world gets shaken up and is no longer satisfying in quite the same way. Her story will really appeal to fans of the genre, especially ones who love the tropes about the "boy next door" and/or "reuniting with a past flame." It hits both at once, and does so in a fun fashion.
Chapters flipflop from "Then" to "Now," and readers are treated to glimpses of both Young Macy and Elliot and Current Macy and Elliot. The chapters of their youth would make a great YA novel and are full of the first blush of love. Macy and Elliot have loved one another for almost their entire lives--though Elliot knew it before Macy did. They read books together and are one another's best friend, even though they don't see each other daily. As they get older and closer, Macy tries to spend more time at the cabin, preferring to go there than anywhere else in the world. Readers will really want to know what caused the two to fracture and split apart as the past moves closer to that fateful night.
In the Present, Macy and Elliot have both finally learned to function on their own again. They have had a lot of trouble learning to open their hearts again and move on, but they've never quite forgotten. I felt that the Present Day chapters flowed more easily than the ones featuring their younger selves, and was always eager to get back to them and see the two learning to navigate one another all over again. I think having so much back-and-forth was a detriment to me personally, which is surprising because I read a lot of contemporary YA, so you'd think I'd be more into the past chapters. So far, I've only read three books from the author duo, and the last two (ROOMIES and DATING YOU/HATING YOU) were great and had palpable tension and chemistry. I still enjoyed LOVE AND OTHER WORDS, but not quite as much. On the other hand, my mom has read every book Christina Lauren has published. She was disappointed with the two books I enjoyed and really loved LOVE AND OTHER WORDS. She said it was one of her favorite books by them and that they were back in their glory. So opinions may be mixed on this newest title, depending on the style of romance and types of tropes you enjoy best!
LOVE AND OTHER WORDS is the first book from Christina Lauren to be considered "Women's Literature" rather than receive the out-and-out "Romance" label. Which is a fancy way to say that the novel has more at its heart than romance, though that does, of course, play a part. It is also about grief, about loss, about learning to move on. It is about family: A widowed father and his young daughter, doing the hardest years on his own. A huge family with big, open hearts ready to embrace the new family that moves in next door. I really loved all of the scenes that involved family and thought that it was interesting to see the vastly different way that Macy and Elliot were brought up, and to see the role family played in their adult lives.
The novel hits hard, but not too hard. It won't leave readers devastated and in tears. Macy and Elliot have to fight a lot of inner demons if they want to find happiness together, and that conflict just makes readers care for them more. LOVE AND OTHER WORDS is just the kind of book to take to the pool or beach as the weather starts to get warmer and readers look for a good book to bring along outdoors.
LOVE AND OTHER WORDS by Christina Lauren was published by Gallery / Simon and Schuster on April 10, 2018.