Other Words for Love

Other Words for Love

4.6 53
by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal

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When an unexpected inheritance enables Ari to transfer to an elite Manhattan prep school, she makes a wealthy new friend, Leigh. Leigh introduces Ari to the glamorous side of New York—and to her gorgeous cousin, Blake. Ari doesn't think she stands a chance, but amazingly, Blake asks her out. As their romance heats up, they find themselves involved in an intense,…  See more details below


When an unexpected inheritance enables Ari to transfer to an elite Manhattan prep school, she makes a wealthy new friend, Leigh. Leigh introduces Ari to the glamorous side of New York—and to her gorgeous cousin, Blake. Ari doesn't think she stands a chance, but amazingly, Blake asks her out. As their romance heats up, they find themselves involved in an intense, consuming relationship. Ari's family worries that she is losing touch with the important things in life, like family, hard work, and planning for the future.
When misfortune befalls Blake's family, he pulls away, and Ari's world drains of color. As she struggles to get over the breakup, Ari must finally ask herself: were their feelings true love . . . or something else?

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
It's 1980s Brooklyn, and Ari is a wallflower next to her gorgeous, sexually experienced best friend, Summer, and her volatile sister, Evelyn, who is having a second baby with her hot firefighter husband. Then the handsome Blake sweeps Ari off her feet, and everything changes. Their relationship quickly intensifies, both emotionally and sexually, and Ari becomes dependent upon their intimacy. When family pressures force Blake to break things off, Ari makes a desperate plea for his affection; when that fails, she is left despondent ("I thought Blake was no better than some street-thug heroin dealer. He had gotten me hooked on him and then he'd cut off my supply"). Debut author Rosenthal's prose avoids moralizing while realistically addressing sexual themes, from codependence to teen pregnancy and fears of sexually transmitted infections (heightened by widespread concerns about AIDS). Though the tone of the book is often somber, it effectively mirrors Ari's emotionally disconnected state, and her difficult story honestly confronts the pain associated with coming of age and first heartbreak. Ages 14– up. (Jan.)
VOYA - Karen Sykeny
Ari Mitchell is the typical angsty teenage protagonist who does not have many friends or much popularity at school. Ari has a life plan: she will graduate in a year and attend art school. Drawing is her life since she feels isolated most of the time, especially since her only friend attends a prep school and Ari goes to public school. Ari's luck changes quickly when an uncle dies, leaving Ari's family some money that can pay for the expensive tuition for prep school. Somewhat ignored by her best friend, Summer, at the new school, Ari meets Leigh, a fellow art student. It becomes very apparent that Summer and Leigh will not be friends, so Ari must keep two separate friendships. While hanging out with Leigh and her family, she meets Blake, Leigh's college-age cousin. Ari and Blake begin dating, and things really get serious, especially for Ari since Blake is her first love. Ari is a realistic and likeable character filled with teenage emotional immaturity and making mistakes with friendships and dating. Her life falls apart, and readers will be engaged and hoping Ari can work through the difficulty. Similar to Judy Blume's Forever (Pocket Books, 1976) story line in some ways, the book is set in the 1980s and references popular culture more familiar to Generation X than today's teens. It could be a little distracting for readers today; however, the main character and her struggles with first love, friendship, and growing up are timeless and universal. Reviewer: Karen Sykeny
Children's Literature - Renee Farrah Vess
The 1980s finds Ari Mitchell trying to adjust to her new life at an elite private school in New York. She has always been the responsible one between her and her older sister Evelyn, who was a teen mom and has a second baby on the way. Ari's future looks solid and safe with new connections opening doors for her. But when she becomes friends with a girl named Leigh, Ari begins going through doors that lead to fancy parties, trips to the Hamptons, and a wealthy, serious boy named Blake. As Ari sifts through who she is and who she wants to be, her newfound confidence can at times be interpreted as arrogance and it might just push her right where she thought she'd never be. This coming of age story features discussions of sex, STDs, pregnancy scares and a trip to the clinic. This is a mature book that reads like a private diary—uncomfortably honest at times, but relatable and recognizable as a teen experience that is anything but childish. Reviewer: Renee Farrah Vess

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Product Details

Random House Children's Books
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2 MB
Age Range:
14 Years

Read an Excerpt


In 1985, just about everyone I knew was afraid of two things: a nuclear attack by the Russians and a gruesome death from the AIDS virus, which allegedly thrived on the mouthpieces of New York City public telephones.

My best friend, Summer, however, didn't worry about catching AIDS from a phone or anything else. She started kissing boys when we were twelve and wrote every one of their names in her diary, which had a purple velvet cover.

I didn't have a diary. I didn't need one because I had only kissed a boy once, in the Catskills during a family vacation between eighth and ninth grades. The Catskills boy was from Connecticut, and he turned on me after I kissed him. He claimed that I opened my mouth too wide and that I was only a four on a scale of one to ten in the looks department.

Don't get any ideas, he said. You Brooklyn girls bore me. And I'm going home in two days, so we'll never see each other again.

That was fine with me. I wanted to pretend that the kiss had never happened. It wasn't what I'd practiced on the back of my hand while imagining handsome faces from General Hospital and Days of Our Lives. None of those guys would have said I was only a four, and they definitely wouldn't have told me to watch where I was going after we bumped into each other at the breakfast buffet.

What are you doing in there? my mother asked later, while I was brushing my teeth in our motel bathroom and hoping there weren't any AIDS germs in my mouth. And I didn't tell Mom what had happened. She'd already warned me that bad things could hide in the most unlikely places.

Summer and I went to different high schools. I attended our local public school in Brooklyn, while she was a student at Hollister Prep, a fancy private school on the Upper East Side of Manhattan that charged tuition my parents couldn't afford.

Summer's parents could afford it, but that wasn't why she transferred there after only three months at my school. It was because some girls were spreading rumors about her, inventing filthy stories about how she supposedly serviced the entire wrestling team and went down on their coach in his office. Summer Simon swallows--that was what the girls wrote in bright red nail polish on a bathroom wall. Then they Scotch-taped Trojan Ribbed for Her Pleasure packets all over Summer's locker. That made her cry.

I peeled them off while she sobbed into her hands. Forget it, I whispered. They're just jealous because all the guys like you.

This was hard for me to say, because I was jealous myself. But Summer stopped crying and even smiled, and I was sure that I'd done something good. And she did lots of good things, too--like not ditching me after she started at Hollister and became a member of its popular crowd.

Now our sophomore year was over and Summer and I sat on folding chairs in my sister Evelyn's backyard in Queens. Toys were scattered across the grass, and Summer rolled a Nerf ball with her dainty foot.

"Eight whole weeks of vacation ahead of us," she said.

I nodded and looked at my nondainty foot. There was a callus on my heel and a scab on my ankle and I needed a pedicure, but Summer didn't. The sun bounced off her painted toenails and the long blond hair that was strategically highlighted around her pretty face. Her eyes were dark, she always wore flashy clothes, and she smelled of L'Air du Temps. She hadn't been without a boyfriend since junior high. Her latest conquest was a Columbia University sophomore she'd met last September who'd taken her virginity by Halloween. He's nineteen, so it's illegal, she'd told me in a giggly whisper the next day. Nobody can ever know.

I knew. And I was jealous. Since she'd started at Hollister, everything had been so easy for her. She rarely studied, yet her name was a permanent fixture on the honor roll. She was good at math, she was a fashion expert, and she could recite the stats of every player on the Yankees. She lived as the only child in a palatial house in Park Slope. Even her name was perfect: Summer Simon, like a movie actress on a glitzy marquee.

I wondered if her parents had planned it that way, and I wished my parents had planned better. They should have known that guys would be more attracted to girls named Summer Simon than to girls named Ariadne Mitchell. I also wished that my mother was as interested in movies as she was in literature. It wasn't a smart idea to name me after some dusty old book by Chekhov.

But Mom was a reader. She had a master's degree in English and taught sixth-grade language arts at a public school. She thought my best friend was highly overrated. According to Mom, Summer was short, she was a shameless flirt, and she was totally manufactured--all dyed hair and makeup and fake nails. Mom said I had a much better figure than Summer because I was thinner and three inches taller, and Jet-black hair with light blue eyes is very rare. You can thank your father for that.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Other Words for Love 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 48 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazing novel
Natalya0 More than 1 year ago
Beautiful Beautiful, realistic book with a perfect and empowering ending.
Mel01 More than 1 year ago
Recently discovered this author via People Magazine, and I have now read all of her books. Other Words For Love is gorgeous...a heartbreaking but empowering tale of a teen girl's coming of age in 1980s New York. I was not surprised to learn the author is a New Yorker, because she really nails the setting. The story contains so many subtle nuances of the class structure in NYC...only someone who is from there could depict them this well. The book made me sigh, laugh, cry, and want to read it again. It also made me wish I could step back into the '80s...if only for one day filled with lace, neon, and Duran Duran.
LindaFictionFervor More than 1 year ago
There were plenty of things that I loved about this book. I loved the characters, I loved the plot, and I loved that feeling of redemption that I got in the end. I loved how this book felt realistic and something that I could fall right into. The plot line of this book takes place in the ’80s, when AIDS was a pretty big deal. Ari’s just a normal teenager, trying to keep up great grades in school and sorting out her jealousy of her best friend and feelings that she shouldn’t have for her brother-in-law. In the beginning of the book, I was slowly following along her daily life. Then there was a turning point. I just couldn’t put the book down, and I found myself watching Ari change from being influenced by her mother who expected her to be a great artist, by her sister who got pregnant as a teen, by her friends Summer and Leigh, and (of course) by her boyfriend Blake. Ari kept on changing, trying to find who she really was, and at the end of the book I felt like she really did use all her potential — that she finally accepted who she was. This book was definitely more suited to the older young adults, what with the sexual content and profanity. But I definitely feel as if this would be a great read for people trying to discover who they really are.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read it, its amazing. Seriously.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Must read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ari, Evelyn, mom, dad, Summer, Leigh. I could see a little of myself in all of these characters, and I'm 30! Definitely not just for teens. I fell in love with this book, couldn't put it down. Thank you Ms. Rosenthal for giving readers the ending we needed, for completing the story (so often I'm left feeling..."so now what?"), for creating believable characters and for giving us Ari. Please write more!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Christine Duong More than 1 year ago
This book is a must read for the highschool set! I love this book because the story is real, it is not a fairytale love story; and is realatable and could very well happen in reality. This story is about girl finding love and also finding out who she is and where she is going in life. It will keep you flipping the pages till the ejd and tug at the strings of your heart. I highly recokmend it.
Ana Bell More than 1 year ago
OTHER WORDS FOR LOVE is a must read for teens. Through the ups and downs of this well written novel you will keep flipping the pages until you have read it all. The relationship between two younge adults leaves you wanting more and more. Worth the money definitley.
Angela Ramsey More than 1 year ago
I was a bit skeptical about reading this but I loved it! Definitely buy it, it's worth the money.
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JS53 More than 1 year ago
OTHER WORDS FOR LOVE is a fantastic book, the kind you don't find very often, especially in YA. It's the kind of book that you still feel burning in your heart and in your hands when you finish that last page. Ari Mitchell, the main character, transcends the usual YA protagonist. She's got her insecurities, but she also knows that she has good qualities to share. The problem is, she doesn't appreciate herself enough, nor do the people around her...her back-stabbing best friend, Summer, her screw-up sister, Evelyn, or all those boys in school who just don't give her a second look. (I kept thinking, "Ari, don't worry! Smart girls like you always end up with the best guys, it just takes a little longer to find them...the guys have to grow up and realize what a quality woman is!") Ari's mother is among the few who see all that Ari has to offer. She tells Ari that she's pretty, smart, and headed for a good future. OTHER WORDS FOR LOVE needs to be understood and viewed in a historical context, and that's why the 1980s setting is so crucial to the story. Ari is part of Generation X, which includes the first young women who weren't told to get married, have kids, be a Betty Crocker and join the PTA. Ari's mother probably had those things forced down her throat, but she broke away as much as she could. She became a teacher, and had children, but one of those children (Evelyn) broke her heart when she had a baby at eighteen and has a simple life of homemaking and being a part-time cashier at the local grocery store. Now, with the world having changed so much, Ari's mother wants everything for her daughter that she didn't have: a satisfying career, the ability to support herself, and an exciting, full, rewarding life. She wants the best for her daughter, even though she's much too pushy in trying to make Ari do things her way. Ari doesn't know which way to go. She also sees that Evelyn is depressed, that she hasn't fulfilled her potential, and that she's let down their parents. These conflicting thoughts often make Ari as depressed as Evelyn. Then along comes Blake...rich, handsome, blue-eyed, sweetheart Blake, every girl's dream, who has an interest in Ari that grows into a serious, sexy, relationship that is supposed to have a future. Ari can't believe her luck, and she starts to see herself as someday "having it all"...Blake as her future husband, beautiful kids, money, a home, and a career as an art professor at a college in her hometown of New York. But wait. Blake's father isn't happy with Ari. To him, she's too middle-class, too serious with his son, a girl who is tempting Blake away from his college studies and his planned-out future as the successor to his father's Manhattan law firm. But Blake doesn't want to be a lawyer. He loves Ari. So he doesn't have to obey Daddy anymore, does he? Blake is twenty, and he has a mind of his own....... Or does he? No. Unfortunately, he doesn't, and Ari is left heartbroken. She's left to work through this misery, to shove through thick, dark, stormy clouds in the hope of sunshine. Does she find it? Yes, she does, and in a way that isn't from a silly romance novel (or most romantic YA). The ending, like the rest of OTHER WORDS FOR LOVE is real, heartfelt, and absolutely beautiful.
Sara74 More than 1 year ago
I'm an adult reader who loves YA, and OTHER WORDS FOR LOVE is one of the best YA novels I have come across. It's a book that I'll give to my daughter (now 12) when she's older, because in addition to this book being very entertaining and tearjerking, its also inspirational. Ari Mitchell, the lead character in the story, is a strong girl and a good example. I loved that she's not unrealistically strong like a cheesey caricature superhero. She's real. She gets hurt, she cries, she does things when she's in a weak spot that she regrets later. But she LEARNS from these things, and she grows and matures, and thats one of the many things that made me connect with her. OTHER WORDS FOR LOVE has a great mix of edginess and softness. I love edgy YA novels, and this one definitely is edgy. It dives into tough issues like teen pregnancy, sex, depression, and more while still being a page turner. FIVE STARS and then some!!!!!!!!!!
TamaraG82 More than 1 year ago
I devoured Other Words For Love like it was a freakin' bowl of ice cream. The book is the best. It combines sexiness and romance with a serious story about self-discovery. It's very well-written, inspiring, and I'm in love with it. Amazing, amazing, amazing.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was sooo good..all i wanted to do was read more. I love the setting the characters the plot. This book was soo amazing you have to read it! I want more books like this!
ParkerinLA More than 1 year ago
Believe the hype on this one. Buy it. Read it. I mean that. Go get it right now. I had heard that this book was good, and it wasn't a lame and shallow romance, and that's so true. This story is not just about Ari and her boyfriend, Blake. It's about Ari and her mother, Ari and her best friend, Ari and her sister, Ari HERSELF. That's the main point of the story: ARI, and how she figures out what's important and that she needs to love and appreciate all that's good about her. Don't expect just a romance because even though you'll get the romance, you'll get other things, too. MANY other things that mean a lot more. I LOVED the ending. Ari could have been a wuss, but...NO. She was strong. She was an independent woman. She didn't let anyone wipe their dirty feet on her. I was just PROUD of that girl. This book completely sucked me in and didn't let go. I'm sort of having withdrawals now that I'm finished. My advice is to get a copy of it. Like I said before. Get it now. You'll thank me later. Seriously, you will.