Title: Love and Other Foreign Words
Author: Erin McCahan
Genre: YA Romance
Length: 336 pages
Where Stacie’s Copy Came From: An ARC from BookSparks/Summer Reading Challenge 2014
Plot Basics: No one but Josie can see that her sister’s fiancé is completely wrong for her sister Kate. Is it because Josie herself has never been in love? Is it because Geoff-speak doesn’t translate into Josie-speak? Josie is determined to prove to everyone that Geoff isn’t the right person for Kate.
Banter Points: I really wish that I could travel back in time and give this book to my 14 year old self. Josie finds that everyone talks in a language that is meaningful to them and their group of people. Her classmates speak a different language than her. So do her parents. And her elderly neighbor. Josie mentally translates their words into thought that fit what she calls “Josie.” Even though she doesn’t always understand why it is important to them, she knows that it is and feeds back the right words to make them feel good and be part of the group. Sometimes means doing things that she doesn’t understand why they are important but recognizes that they are. I often feel like there is a chain of girl-memos that I never receive and therefore don’t know how to act to fit in. Josie recognizes this for herself and is able to make the adjustments needed to fit in. It’s the very sort of thing that I struggle with yet today, only, I’m not as smart as Josie to figure out what to do. It makes me very happy that a book like this exists.
Josie consciously studies people and the languages that they speak. A good portion of the novel deals with her translation between Father and self, Mother and self, etc. The different nuances that we mean when we say “Cool” or “I love you” are something that Josie articulates in the book. It’s the kind of thought process that can be overwhelming for an introvert, yet essential for processing.
The love story and romance in the book is very sweet but complicated as Josie sorts through her feelings. I admire her determination to understand what love is and how it works. Mathematically, it isn’t possible to calculate what love is, but it doesn’t stop Josie from trying.
There were some serious laugh-out-loud moments in this book, always a good sign. Early in the book, Josie is frustrated with a calculation that she is trying to develop. There’s too many variables and unknown facts. I was dying to share it with a friend that often recognizes that every problem in the world is a lack of sufficient data. The problem? Josie is trying to determine how much rat she has consumed throughout the course of her life. (Yes, really. She has a valid point. It’s a serious risk if you aren’t careful.)
Bummer Points: I really didn’t have any bummers with this book. Even the formatting glitches that occurred in the e-copy weren’t enough to through me out of the story.
Stacie’s Recommendation: Pick it up for yourself or a teen in your life. You’ll be glad that you did. And the next time you hear a word like cool, nice or sweet, think about what that means to you, versus the person that said it. It just might surprise you.