Love and Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan
published on May 1st 2014 by Dial Books
contemporary | romance
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 actually only picked up Love and Other Foreign Words on a whim during a bookstore sale. I had previously read a positive review of the novel (that definitely mentioned a lot of things I think I’d enjoy) and put it in the back of my mind. Luckily, this novel did not disappoint.
First off, I’d like to commend Erin McCahan’s different spin on what you’d call a generic story. We’ve all heard of stories with teens falling in love–but what if one teen didn’t understand the definition of love?
Josie was a spectacular and hilarious heroine. An intelligent girl (a genius, really), she over analyzes even the smallest things and really pushes herself to understand everyone and to make sure she knows the right way to respond. I loved Josie’s voice and how I felt as if she was a real teen–awkward and constantly confused. The one thing that confused her most? Love.
The great thing is, as Josie learned along her journey of finding love’s true definition, we learned as well. Love isn’t only the romantic kind–we feel love for friends and family, too.
The family aspect of the novel was so truthful and honest. There were fights and make-up between the siblings, as well as those little acts of love, appreciation, and of course (believe me, if you have a sibling, you’d relate) ploys of revenge. Josie and her family were hilarious and I loved how they remind me of my own family. She was close with her parents, was on-and-off with her sisters and that’s just how a lot of people are.
Then there’s the romantic kind of love. This was the kind of love Josie had yet to experience and was searching for. She’d experienced crushes, the like-but-not-love and love-in-denial and it was great to watch Josie develop and grow throughout all of these. The actual love interest was so cute and just very shippable.
Josie also loved her friends–girl friends and a guy friend. There was a lot of support, advice, bonding moments and more with Josie and her friends, just like what we experience with ours. A lot of books actually fail in terms of good, strong friendships for me. McCahan did not.
So here’s a tip: Don’t just go into this one for the romance (although I would totally understand you if you did, because hello, adorableness!), go into it for how much you’ll be able to see yourself in the novel. Plus the humor. I totally laughed out loud so many times while reading this one.
A quickie overview:
Tired of reading generic, boring contemporary romance? McCahan serves it with a quirky heroine, a good dose of family love and friendship, mixed in with an adorable romance and of course, the language of love.
Aimee adores contemporaries every once in a while to calm her mind. When she does read contemporary, she wants them to be sweet, realistic and fun. She’s also attempting to learn Japanese, but her laziness is getting in her way.