Love and Other Words

Love and Other Words

by Christina Lauren

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Overview

Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren

After a decade apart, childhood sweethearts reconnect by chance in New York Times bestselling author Christina Lauren’s touching, romantic novel Love and Other Words...how many words will it take for them to figure out where it all went wrong?

The story of the heart can never be unwritten.

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 bookish 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 devouring 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501128011
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication date: 04/10/2018
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 27,550
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.25(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Christina Lauren is the combined penname of longtime writing partners/best friends Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings, the New York Times, USA TODAY, and #1 International bestselling authors of The Beautiful and Wild Seasons series, Dating You/Hating You, Roomies, Love and Other Words, Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating, and the critically acclaimed Autoboyography. You can find them online at ChristinaLaurenBooks.com, Facebook.com/ChristinaLaurenBooks, or @ChristinaLauren on Twitter.

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Love and Other Words includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
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Introduction

When Macy and her dad move in to their weekend house in the wine country outside of San Francisco, little do they realize how dramatically this decision will impact the rest of their lives. It is in this house that Macy first falls in love with her neighbor Elliot and comes to understand the complexity of love and heartache. The novel is told in two timelines—in the past, when Macy’s mom has just died and her father is searching for a weekend home to help heal their fractured family, and in the present, when Macy and Elliot run into each other suddenly after being estranged for almost eleven years. At once thrilling and heart-wrenching, Love and Other Words is a celebration of the fragility of love, the beauty of literature, and the strength of true friendship to overcome anything.

Topics and Questions for Discussion

1. In the prologue, Macy thinks back on watching her parents interact as a child, noticing the way they would hug each other, noticing the totality of their love: “It never occurred to me that love could be anything other than all-consuming. Even as a child, I knew I never wanted anything less” (p. 2). In what ways do you think Macy’s parents’ marriage is a sort of paradigm for Macy’s future relationships? Does this desire for an “all-consuming” love color her decision to take things slow with Elliot initially? Do you think it impacts her decision to marry Sean? How so?

2. When Macy and Elliot run into each other in the coffee shop, Macy feels excitement and dread simultaneously, claiming “I’ve wanted to see him every day. But also, I never wanted to see him again” (p. 26). How does the contradiction of this statement relate to the novel’s theme of love? Do you think falling in love might also be described as both wonderful and terrible?

3. Discuss the structure of the novel. How does the movement from past to present impact your understanding of Macy and Elliot? Do you feel more sympathetic to Macy’s decision in light of seeing her both as a child at the start of a relationship and as an adult in its aftermath? Why or why not?

4. In an early email exchange, Macy writes to Elliot the following postscript: “No one here understands that I just want to be another girl at school not the kid whose mom died and who needs to be treated like she can break. Thanks for just saying stuff and not acting like it’s all taboo” (p. 82). Connect this notion to the title. How do words shape Elliot and Macy’s relationship? Do you agree that it is through the power of words that the two discover what it means to love?

5. Despite the fact that Macy’s mother is deceased for the entirety of the novel, her presence looms large. It is her list that inspired the purchase of the Healdsburg house to begin with, the catalyst that sets Macy and Elliot on their journey. Discuss Macy’s mother as a character. In what ways do you find her haunting the pages of the novel? Can you find other instances where she impacts the choices the characters make?

6. Discuss Macy’s career choice. Do you think her decision to care for sick children is a result of her losing her parents so young? About her losing the love of her life?

7. When Macy first gets her period, she reads a letter from her mother, who writes, “You are my masterpiece” (p. 121). In what ways does Macy heed her mother’s advice and care for her body? In what ways does she disregard her mother’s wish to care for herself?

8. Macy muses on page 136 that her dad “made a good living . . . but what we could never buy was chaos and bustle.” Why do you think Macy is so attracted to the Petropoulos family? Is it that opposites attract, or is it something more?

9. A possible definition of love emerges on page 205 after Macy begins to reconsider her life with Sean. “I’m terrified of what I’m feeling,” she says. “I feel like I’ve just woken up.” As someone who loves words, why do you think Macy finds it so difficult to articulate how she feels?

10. Loss plays a central role in Love and Other Words. Discuss the different kinds of loss that occur in the novel. Do all the characters handle loss similarly, or does “pressing down the familiar bubble of need” (p. 228) seem unique to Macy’s character?

11. Answer Elliot’s question to Macy on page 236: “Are you staying because of Phoebe?” If not, why does Macy stay in a relationship with Sean for so long?

12. The scene Macy walks into on that fateful New Year’s Eve stands in stark contrast to the scene years later at Elliot’s brother’s wedding when the two friends say “I love you” face-to-face for the first time (p. 336). What other examples of contrasts can you think of in the novel? Consider Macy’s family, Elliot’s family, Sean, Elliot, and the past versus the present in your response.

13. Revisit the scene where Macy reveals what happened in the hours after she found Elliot passed out with Emma. Why do you think it took her so long to find the words to tell Elliot this story, the story he so desperately needed to hear?

14. Why does Elliot want “to move past this closet” (p. 395)? Do you agree with Elliot that you can’t go backward and that the key to happiness is moving forward?

Enhance Your Book Club

1. Macy and Elliot’s love affair begins over an innocent love of literature. The pair spent hours in Macy’s closet, devouring books and sharing that contented silence of reading together. With your book club, read Pay It Forward, the first book the pair bonded over as children and a book that encourages hope. Share with your reading group why you think both Macy and Elliot liked this novel. What reasons do Macy and Elliot have to find hope in the world? Do they find it, eventually? Do you see yourself as more inherently hopeful like Elliot or more hopeless, like Macy?

2. Arguably the moment Macy admits to herself that she is in love with Elliot is at his brother’s wedding when the musician plays a rendition of Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah.” Host a dinner party with your book club. Over dinner and drinks, listen to this song and imagine you are there with Macy. Why do you think this particular song made her feel like she wasn’t alone? Can you point to a specific moment in the song that might have contributed to Macy’s feelings? As you listen, consider if it is the words or the music—or the combination—that creates a feeling of comfort. Share your experience listening to the song with your group. Do you have a song that reminds you of a moment you fell in love?

3. Host a game night with your book club. As part of the fun, play Elliot and Macy’s favorite word game. Be sure to mimic the rules by which the couple played the game. That is, no overthinking! Just say whatever word comes to mind first. After a few rounds, discuss the results. How do the kinds of words that popped into your head reflect who you are? Do you agree that letting someone into your subconscious in this way is an intimate act?

Customer Reviews

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Love and Other Words 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is so good. As usual, Christina Lauren sucks you in with great dialogue, evocative details, and humor. But the real grab is the heart punching relationship between Macy and Elliott. This book made me produce actual tears. It's full of emotion and eventual gratification. Highly recommend reading it!
gaele More than 1 year ago
First love is difficult, and you never forget it. But, not everyone has a chance to go back again and experience those firsts with the person they left behind years ago. Macy and Elliot met over books years ago: sharing favorite moments, lines and scenes, that common thread turned to friendship which soon turned to love. Their first love. But now, years later, Mary is a resident in pediatrics with a settled plan, engaged to an older, successful man and setting herself up for an ‘expected’ life. She’s content and secure – both elements she feels are most important at this time, even if her fiancé doesn’t make her heart skip a beat. Then after an eleven year absence, Elliot appears. Bringing up all of those long-buried feelings of hope, butterflies and excitement that she thought weren’t for her. And of course, Elliot is even more attractive now than before: now that she knows that life isn’t always full of potential and excitement, and finding that one person you can share your deepest secrets and fears with is rare. Of course Elliot is everything she’s missing with her fiancé, things she didn’t even realize she wanted or needed, having pushed the emotions and feelings of that first love into a box. The authors have used a present / past device here that puts those emotions for both Mary and Elliot (and readers) into easy reach, smoothly presenting the development of their relationship as it happened, as they are restructuring and reacquainting themselves with who they are now, and then adjusting and allowing for the connection, built so long ago to reappear. There are bits of mystery surrounding the end of their young romance, as well as moments that show how both have grown and matured, and perhaps even matured in ways that could find them reliving the past while building to the future. Charming from the start, completely engaging and easy to see the relationship as it builds on two levels: past and present, keeping readers cheering them on and remembering their own firsts. A favorite read for characters, depth of story and the beautiful inserts of ‘past moments’ that help to both deepen and inform their present. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
ReadingFrenzyBookBlog More than 1 year ago
Christina Lauren, what have you done to me??? I am a hot mess right now. I’m talking about ALL the feels, ya’ll. Love and Other Words is an adult contemporary romance that is equal parts coming of age, friends becoming lovers, loss and heartache, and second chance romance—all combined in one potent fictional cocktail. It is 100% amazing! You know you have a winner on your hands when you lose sight of the fact that you’re reading fiction because the story seems so real. The intricacies of the plot, as well as the complexity of the characters and their interactions with one another, make the story entirely absorbing and believable. I could not read the pages fast enough. The fact that Elliott and Macy are fellow bibliophiles makes them kindred spirits. However, I have no words to describe my level of adoration of them. I can say the tale of their meeting as awkward tweens, followed by their transition to best friends and then to high school loves, is just as fascinating as the mystery of their fall-out, decade-long separation, and subsequent reunion. Sporadic flashbacks in books can be a distraction if not handled with care. In this case, the timelines are purposeful and orderly; each chapter alternates between “now” and “then.” It creates a sense of honesty and perfect clarity to the depth of Macy and Elliott’s relationship. I can’t imagine the story unfolding any other way. The writing duo of Christina Lauren has truly outdone themselves with this tender and deeply moving romance. I don’t have to think twice about giving Love and Other Words five enthusiastic stars.
LynnLTX More than 1 year ago
A first foray into the genre of Women’s Fiction from the writing team of Christina Lauren, Macy and Elliott’s story is told concurrently by switching back and forth between two timelines: then and now. The initial flashback reads like a coming of age story where we see Macy and Elliot first meeting as teens who then develop a long lasting, deep relationship. They are both ardent readers so books and words are intrinsic to their time together and personal growth. The other part of the story is an adult contemporary romance. Two catastrophic events in Macy’s life define her: the first, the early loss of her mother which is the reason her father purchased a weekend/summer home in Elliot’s small town outside of San Francisco. The second event is a one-two punch also intertwined with Elliot fomenting their breakup after a heartbreaking betrayal. Neither Macy nor Elliot have even gotten over the other and when a chance meeting brings them back together again, they have a second opportunity at love. Since their breakup, Macy has lived a numbed emotional life too afraid to ever invest her heart in anyone again. Although she is engaged, Sean is a safe choice and no risk to her soul. Elliott did not fare much better over the years not really understanding how Macy could just disappear from his life all the while knowing he hurt her deeply. Their connection went beyond a teen crush as both had expected to be together forever. Clearly Macy and Elliott were soulmates even at a young age so the loss of their relationship for eleven years has been emotionally wrenching to both of them. Fortunately Macy has a friend, Sabrina, who really sees past her defenses pushing Macy to go out of the safe zone to be honest about who and what she wants. This story is told very well keeping me invested in the characters and riding the emotional roller coaster right along with them. Macy and Elliot seem so right together that you want them to find their way home because that is what they are for each other: home. The backdrop of their reading together and falling in love as they grow up is very appealing as well for readers who highly value the written and spoken word. Their long separation is also frustrating to those of us with tender hearts who don’t like the idea of people who clearly belong together losing their way. It seemed a little odd to me that neither Macy nor Elliot tracked down the other after such a close relationship; however, other than that aspect, I enjoyed this story. Telling a concurrent story in this format is not easy, but I think the writers do it rather well. This tale of love, lost and regained, will work you over emotionally to arrive at the place where joy happens, but it is worth the journey.
Anonymous 2 days ago
This book threw me a curve ball, didn't even imagined it but absolutely loved it. You are in for a ride.
Amy_Jo 11 days ago
Christina Lauren are becoming auto-buy for me. I really enjoy their romantic comedy books like Josh & Hazel's Guide to Not Dating or Roomies. I wasn't sure I'd be into their first foray into women's lit, but this slow burn book was very enjoyable.
Anonymous 3 months ago
Her books always make me laugh and sometikes cry. Her writing pulls you in and i lose sleep aatimg awake to finish her books. Honestly she cant crank them out fast enough for me! Ive read them all!
LEH0644 More than 1 year ago
When a young girl’s mother dies, her father buys a cabin for them to escape to for weekends. There she meets a nerdy next-door neighbor who loves book as much as she does. They become best friends and as they grew older, the friendship grew into love. She felt betrayed the night she found in passed out drunk with a naked girl laying across him. Eleven years later, they run into each other again and the attraction is still there although both are cautious about calling it love. Can they forget their past mistakes and forgive each other? Can they have a second chance at love?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Delighful story! I really likedthe main characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazing writing and storytelling. Love, love, loved it!
readsandreviews More than 1 year ago
In a vein reminiscent of Colleen Hoover, the writing duo of Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings aka Christina Lauren, embark on their first foray into Women’s Fiction with Love and Other Words. This second chance romance, told in alternating past and present chapters, flows with emotion, poetic imagery, and the pain of loss. “When I lost her, it felt like I was drowning in all the love I still had that could never be given.” Second-chance love stories always hit me hard, the thought of two people finding their soul mates and then losing them almost too much to take. Macy and Elliot met as young teens, sharing a love of reading. After losing her mother just three years earlier, Macy is emotionally distant with everyone except her father. Elliot is the youngest of 4 boys when they meet, his family loud and boisterous. His no-nonsense approach to everything is exactly what Macy needs. He draws her out during their weekends together, as they hide in Macy’s “reading” closet, growing close, finding their other half in each other. “I never got to fall out of love. I just had to move on.” The flashback scenes really carry this story, the young love that grows between Macy and Elliot is rich with their connection. I felt their link, basked in their affection for each other. Hidden away from the world, they explore each other through words and quiet hours spent reading. I loved the intimacy of these moments. Young Elliot has an insight and straight forwardness that’s rarely seen in a young person that’s still finding their way. His bold questions surprise even me, but I adored him for asking them, as did Macy. “We loved each other, of course, but without Mom we were both sort of lost, arms outstretched as we tried to fumble through each day.” In many ways, Love and Other Words is really a Young Adult novel. The present day narration from Macy really serves as the window into the love between her and Elliot. With years of heartbreak and misunderstanding overshadowing them, the older Macy and Elliot are strangers when they meet again and I never quite felt their connection. While the flashback chapters could easily standalone, the present day chapters felt empty and never really show me why Macy and Elliot should be together in the now. Even as the book moved toward the revelation of the secrets they’ve both been keeping, I found myself asking questions about who these two characters had become. From Macy’s chosen profession to why Elliot had never searched for her, I felt as though there was too much that was left off the page. “And because when I find that book that makes me lose myself for just one hour, maybe more, I forget. And because my dad thinks of Mom every time he buys me a book. And because you’re here and I feel about a thousand times less lonely with you.” The real strength of Love and Other Words is the words. I was captivated by them. The authors capture the sense of loss brilliantly through their imagery. I found myself nodding my head, saying to myself, “yes that is exactly how my heart breaking feels and sounds and looks.” 3.5 Stars for Love and Other Words. Heat level: 2 I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for honest feedback.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved the characters and the story behind the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved the then and now concept. Two stories beautifully woven into one couples lives.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another I will re-read over again!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Absolutely loved this book! I just finished it and I want to read it again...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
oh my heart. It's been a few days since I've read this and I'm still wading through my feelings. In their first venture into Women's Fiction, CLo just go for it. I could read 100 more books like this one. Whenever I struggle with a book it's because I can't connect to the characters. But I never have that problem with CLo books. With every book you say I'm a Chloe! No, I'm a Harlow! Nope, y'all I am totally a Lorelei. Wait hold on -- Holland, definitely Holland. But along comes the story of 28 year old Macy as she struggles through reconnecting with past and how it all impacts her present -- it's all the feels. What makes this book for me is that it's a story told from the past and the present -- and that's something I never say. If it were just a story of teenagers finding love or just a second chance romance between old friends each would be a good story but weaving the tale through the past and present makes it a great story. The different timelines add to the depth and complexities of Macy. I saw this thing on Twitter a while ago that says "I've lost people and found them again. The second time things just made more sense. Honestly, timing has a lot to do with everything. Sometimes you aren't ready for each other yet." As soon as I finished this book this was the first thing I thought of. As much as it hurts sometimes you need that time and distance. That time that space it makes it all worth it when it finally comes together. I can't think of a better way to describe Macy's journey and her relationship with Elliot.
UpAllNightBB More than 1 year ago
Christina Lauren is one of my go to one-click authors. I haven't read a book by this duo that I haven't loved. Love and Other Words is yet another magnificent masterpiece by these ultra talented ladies. Macy and Elliott's story is more than just a romance. It is a coming of age, second chance, best friends and family story with a hint of romance. Told through present day and flashbacks this story will grab a hold of your attention and your emotions, running you through a gauntlet of real life experiences. If you are new to Christina Lauren's writing then this is the perfect book to get your feet wet. Not as steamy as their Beautiful series and not a rom-com like Dating You/Hating Youbut thoroughly enjoyable all the same. 5 stars **Review by Amy W., Late Night Reviewer for Up All Night w/ Books**
Risa_A More than 1 year ago
I have such a grand proclivity for this book. You know how there are books where you are so engrossed in the tale that you lose sense of the world around you—you lose yourself—your sense of life—you become infatuated with it. This book was that for me. I was infatuated with it throughout. I was up all night reading it I had to force myself to sleep, cause with a colic baby, my sleep is already disturbed and then I go about my days like a zombie with a killer headache. Anyway, this book. This author duo. They have outdone themselves. I hart the characters in this novel. I lived their lives. I adored his this book was written. The one and then manner of revealing the storyline was crucial and just omg. Elliot and omg. I dote on their honesty policy, I want that with my someone. The break that I had to have from this because of a death in family was hard and it made me sorta disconnect from the book but I still am gravitating towards this book, hard. Ah, I just can't deal with what this book did to me. Just. This was so touching and endearing. This was my second five star read of the year. Just perfect. Love and Other Words hits shelves on April 10th. Special thanks to NetGalley and the Publisher’s, Gallery Books for this review copy. I can't recommend d this book enough.
Lauren817 More than 1 year ago
I never expected this book to ripe my heart to pieces; however, that's exactly what Christina Lauren's Love and Other Words managed to do. At its heart, Love and Other Words is a book about second chances as well as growing up. It's split between two timelines - then and now - and Christina Lauren did a fantastic job of making each timeline rich in emotion as well as purpose. With books like these I tend to have a favorite timeline; however, I can't say that occurred here. I loved both equally, and never once did I feel that the story would've been better without one or the other. It's quite the opposite in fact: the two timelines are what made Elliot and Macy's story so developed, so three dimensional. I adored seeing them find each other as teenagers and then re-finding each other as late twenty-somethings. It was messy and heartfelt. Macy and Elliot aren't perfect by any means. They had their flaws back in their youth and they still have their flaws in present day, but that's what makes them relatable as well as lovable, in my opinion. I loved seeing them get things right as well as wrong, seeing them succeed as well as crumble, because it showed that life isn't always perfect, that sometimes outside forces are beyond our control, that sometimes you just have to believe that what is meant to be will find its way. Macy is fiercely independent; however, over the years she's managed to twist being independent into also being incredibly closed off. She likes being in control, because when she hasn't been in control in the past, it's only managed to hurt her. My heart broke for Macy. Over the course of her life she suffered so many losses. While I wanted her to open up to Elliot, I could also understand why she would be so reluctant. It is hard to open yourself up to potential heartbreak. Elliott is similar to Macy yet so vastly different at the same time. He starts the story off as a timid, quiet preteen, finding refuge in his books and favorite words, but by his twenties he turns into this thoughtful, passionate individual, one who wears his heart on his sleeve. I adored Elliott. I loved how he was with Macy, how willing he was to put everything on the table for another chance. He made me swoon too many times to keep count. Together, Elliott and Macy have an easy, natural bond. There's incredible chemistry between them, and I adored just seeing them interact with each other. No matter how many Macy pushed, they always came together like magnets, never resisting the ever-present pull. Throughout Love and Other Words, I was dying to know what had dragged them apart. I had my theories, but I never imaged it would affect me as much as it did. I sobbed for the last few chapters, but honestly, I don't think I would've wanted it any other way. It's what made the journey so memorable. I'll be thinking about Elliott and Macy's story for days to come. Overall, Love and Other Words is an emotional roller coaster of a read. It's heartbreaking as well as romantic. It's smile including as well as swoon-worthy. It will make you shed some tears, and I'm not talking about pretty tears. Nope, if you're anything like me there will be A LOT of ugly crying. It's just fantastic, and honestly, I can't suggest it highly enough. It's taken me a long time to finally read a Christina Lauren book, but I can now say I'm here to stay. I can't wait to read their past and future books.