Also by this author: Roomies, My Favorite Half-Night Stand, Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating, The Unhoneymooners
on April 10, 2018
Genres: Adult Fiction, Romance
Format: Audio Book •Source: Scribd
Macy Sorensen is settling into an ambitious if emotionally tepid routine: work hard as a new pediatrics resident, plan her wedding to an older, financially secure man, keep her head down and heart tucked away.
But when she runs into Elliot Petropoulos—the first and only love of her life—the careful bubble she’s constructed begins to dissolve. Once upon a time, Elliot was Macy’s entire world—growing from her gangly teen friend into the man who coaxed her heart open again after the loss of her mother…only to break it on the very night he declared his love for her.
Told in alternating timelines between Then and Now, teenage Elliot and Macy grow from friends to much more—spending weekends and lazy summers together in a house outside of San Francisco reading books, sharing favorite words, and talking through their growing pains and triumphs. As adults, they have become strangers to one another until their chance reunion. Although their memories are obscured by the agony of what happened that night so many years ago, Elliot will come to understand the truth behind Macy’s decade-long silence, and will have to overcome the past and himself to revive her faith in the possibility of an all-consuming love.
Over the course of the past year or so I’ve fallen in love with Christina Lauren’s romantic comedies, enjoying the witty banter, the impossible situations, and the laugh out loud moments. So you can imagine my surprise going into Love and Other Words expecting another fun romance novel and experiencing instead a much more emotional, heart-string pulling book, and by far the most painfully evocative novel by the duo that I’ve come across so far. Love and Other Words captures the painful, isolating feelings of first heartbreak so viscerally that readers won’t be able to read Macy and Elliot’s story without remembering their own fraught teenage relationships.
Told in a dual timeline between the present and the past (when Macy and Elliot were teenagers), Love and Other Words follows medical resident Macy as she is working to establish herself in the Bay Area after returning from nearly a decade away in order to escape heartbreak and tragedy. Rather than a “meet-cute,” Macy experiences what I like to think of as a “meet-trauma” as she runs into her ex in a coffee shop who she hasn’t spoken to in over ten years, and does what any reasonable person would do- makes an excuse and hightails it out of there. Of course, the Bay Area really isn’t that big and she’s forced to confront both her past and present feelings for Elliot throughout the course of the novel.
Ok, huge points for this novel being set in the Bay Area and being realistic about what it’s like to live there (Crazy high rent? Check. Taking two hours to go about 12 miles in the car during rush hour commute? Check.) and that also explores other areas of the Bay outside of San Francisco- Berkeley (East Bay) and Healdsburg (North Bay) are both also mentioned. I loved the setting and seeing how Elliot and Macy were so drawn to returning to the Bay in their adult lives after wanting nothing more than to escape as young adults and try to start over after their relationship imploded.
As I mentioned previously, Love and Other Words is the most emotional Christina Lauren book that I’ve read and the dept of emotion was pretty expertly crafted across the dual narrative structure. The “past” timeline really captured the essence of exploring the first love and intimacies of the teenage years, while the adult “present” timeline was so raw and vulnerable and made me feel like I had crawled into Macy’s heart. As much as I love their rom coms, I think it’s almost a shame that they are not writing more of these emotionally charged stories because MY GOD these women can write a tragic twist. I was literally left completely speechless when I found out what the big reveal was even though I thought it was going to be fairly obvious (which it was in some ways but they just took it to a whole extra LEVEL). They also wrote a wonderful cast of supporting characters (which I’ve noticed they always do), however I appreciated the juxtaposition of Elliot’s bright, rambunctious family and Macy’s small, quiet and somewhat sad one. Both families were valid, important, and had their strengths and weaknesses in their own way. I listened to this one on audio so I’m not sure if it’s a particularly long book or not but all of the characters felt fleshed out without the book feeling unnecessarily long.
While I think the writing and crafting of this story deserves a full five stars, I unfortunately can’t rate it that way in good conscience because I found myself unsettled by the ending. I don’t want to spoil anyone, but I personally was not rooting for a HEA for this couple as I think the tragedy and time between the first and second chance of this particular romance was too much to overcome and think that it would have done better with more of a bittersweet, live and learn as we go our separate ways type ending. View Spoiler »And wooooooow could I never have forgiven Elliot if I was Macy no matter how in love I was with him. He basically KILLED HER DAD. And his whole excuse for cheating was WEAK and PATHETIC. And he constantly sort of casts himself as the victim IMO? « Hide Spoiler
Overall: A really, really solid novel from Christina Lauren and perhaps the most well written one, Love and Other Words packs an emotional punch with after effects that longer for days.