Tag Archives: other words for love

Author Interviews
March 14, 2011 posted by Christina

Interview with Lorraine Zago Rosenthal

Lorraine Zago Rosenthal is the author of the incredible new novel, Other Words For Love. If you haven’t already got a copy, you must, must check it out. Lorraine was nice enough to let us steal some of her time for an interview (as well a great guest post which you can read here).

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You have a B.A. in Psychology, (which is very impressive!) what made you opt to take up writing as opposed to a career in that field?

Thank you! I began writing at a young age and had initially planned to major in English in college, but instead chose to study psychology because it was also a subject that interested me. I really enjoyed studying psychology, and this knowledge assists in fiction writing. To create believable characters, you have to consider their background, experiences, and everything else that affects them emotionally. I never planned to work in the field of psychology, and I later went on to earn graduate degrees in education and English. Throughout my education I was always writing and hoped to become an author.

Other Words For Love is incredibly heartbreaking but also moving and a story a lot of people can learn from and relate to – what inspired you to write it?

I’m a character-driven writer, and the characters were what came to me first. Ari and her family were in my mind for quite a while before I fully understood Ari’s story and began to write it. When that story crystallized, I just wanted to tell it and to share it with readers. Ari was my inspiration all along.

Most reviews I’ve read for OWFL have been incredibly positive, many with a 5 star rating, were you surprised by the response?

I was hoping for a good response but because fiction is so subjective, I knew that not all readers would give my novel five stars. I have therefore been pleasantly surprised and very grateful for the immensely positive response.

It was so interesting reading a book set in the 80s which has barely been touched on in YA Fiction, why that decade?

There are a few reasons why I chose to set the story during the 1980s. As you mentioned, the 1980s are a neglected era in YA fiction. The only other YA novel I know of that is set during this decade is The Carrie Diaries. There is YA fiction set in the 1800s, 1920s, etc., so why not the 1980s? This decade is as valid historically as any other, and I believe that no time period should be restricted from the YA genre. There are stories to tell from the viewpoint of young people in every era.

I thought that if teens could identify with historical fiction—time periods with cultures and values so different from now—then they could easily relate to a time period that they didn’t live through but wasn’t all that long ago. The ideals of the 1980s weren’t exactly the same as today, but they weren’t completely different, either. I also thought that adults who read YA fiction and lived through the 1980s might connect with the story.

But the main reason I set Other Words for Love in the 1980s is that the story wouldn’t work in the present day. As I mentioned, culture and values weren’t radically different then, but they weren’t exactly the same as today. For example—in the novel, Ari’s sister has a baby when she is seventeen years old, and although teen pregnancy isn’t encouraged now, I think it has less of a social stigma than it had during the 80s. There was no “Teen Mom” on MTV back then! Ari is more embarrassed about her sister having been a teen mother than she might be today, and Evelyn’s choices are extremely disappointing to her parents.

Also, the issue of AIDS is prevalent throughout the novel. Although AIDS unfortunately still exists, it is better understood than it was during the 80s, when it was new and many people didn’t fully comprehend how it could be contracted. There was an undercurrent of hysteria when AIDS first appeared, and this is present in Other Words for Love.

Finally, although Ari is intelligent and mature, she’s also more innocent than most girls her age would be today—for various reasons. For example, the internet didn’t exist during the 1980s, so teens didn’t have as much access to information as they do now. The 1980s were more conservative than the present time—just take a look at how teens were represented in the media back then as opposed to now.

What’s your favorite thing about the 80s?

I would say my favorite thing about the 1980s is the music. There was a lot of great music back then, especially from English artists who had a very distinctive sound.

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Thanks Lorraine!  You can follow Lorraine on twitter – @lorrainezr

Check out our review of Other Words For Love here.

Other Words For Love is available in store in the U.S. and online via Amazon or Book Depository for international readers.

Guest Post
March 7, 2011 posted by Christina

Guest Post by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal

Breaking Up, Moving on, and Seeing the Other Doors

When a good thing ends, it’s never easy. If something fills us with happiness, we hope it won’t fade away. We want it to stick around forever. But sometimes, even good things aren’t so great. Sometimes those things can keep us on a single road—and even if it’s an easy, sunny, joyful road, staying there might stop us from going anywhere else. It can keep us from growing and becoming everything we can be.

In Other Words for Love, the main character—Ari—doubts herself. She’s pretty, smart, and a gifted artist…but that isn’t what she sees in the mirror. She only sees her flaws, and she’s afraid of risk. She loves to draw and she’s good at it, and even though her mother is confident that Ari can become a successful artist one day, Ari is afraid to try. She fears being rejected and criticized, and she prefers to keep her art “hidden in my studio like a newborn baby because nobody would ever love it the way I did.”

But Ari doesn’t really know that. Other people might love Ari’s art as much as she does…if she’d only give them a chance.

Ari is also yearning for attention and affection, and she finds it when she meets Blake. He becomes her boyfriend, and she quickly falls into a euphoric, intense relationship that smolders with bliss. A world that seemed gray and empty to Ari is now colorful and beautiful and thrilling, and Ari wants it to stay that way forever.

But it doesn’t. And when Ari loses Blake, everything looks darker than it ever had before. With Blake, Ari had plans and dreams and hopes for a future…and when he’s gone, she can’t see past her heartbreak. She can’t see other possibilities.

But there are other possibilities, and this is a lesson that Ari learns. Through her struggles, she realizes that there isn’t only one path, and that there are many roads to happiness. Breaking up and moving on can be difficult, but it’s not the end of the world. It might be the road to a much brighter one. It could be the thing that helps us to grow and to find out who we really are.

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us.” This is a quote from Helen Keller, and it’s something that Ari finally understands. I think it’s good advice for anyone.

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Lorraine Zago Rosenthal is the author of the incredible novel Other Words For Love. To see our review click here



Check out the book trailer below –

Book Reviews
February 21, 2011 posted by Christina

Other Words For Love – Lorraine Zago Rosenthal

“Ari Mitchell feels invisible at her Brooklyn high school. Her hair is too flat, her style too preppy, and her personality too quiet. And outside school, Ari feels outshined by her beautiful, confident best friend, Summer. Their friendship is as complex and confusing as Ari’s relationship with her troubled older sister, Evelyn, a former teenage mom whose handsome firefighter husband fills Ari’s head with guilty fantasies.

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. Meanwhile, Summer warns her that what she feels for Blake is just an infatuation. No real love. But Ari’s world is awash with new colors, filled with a freshness and an excitement she hasn’t felt in years.”

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For this review, we’re doing things a little differently. Never has a debut novel been so sought after by almost every member of the yaReads team and had us all in a flutter, so it seems fitting that we bring you a joint review of Lorraine Zago Rosenthal’s Other Words For Love.

Ivy: Holy Guacamole!  Two days after, I’m still thinking about Other Words for Love.  It was one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.  For an urban fantasy lover like me, it’s a breath of fresh air to have read something as real and believable as this book.  It could be your sister, friend, or neighbor’s story.

This is an easy 5 stars.  Outstanding debut Ms. Rosenthal!

Rating: : ★★★★★

Kiona: Other Words for Love is an emotional roller-coaster. Throughout the book, my opinion of Ariadne was ever-changing. In the beginning, I like her. She’s the relatable underdog: a pretty girl often overlooked due to the beauty of her best friend. She’s a hard worker, gets good grades, and is passionate about art. She also pretty much takes care of her out-of-control older sister’s son, which is very altruistic of her considering her sister, Evelyn, treats her like crap. I admire Ari’s inner-strength and ability to look past others’ flaws.

But then she meets Blake and he essentially eclipses the sun of Ari’s world. To me, Blake is a decent enough guy, but I was annoyed by his constant use of the word, “ nice” Anytime she considers doing something he doesn’t like, he makes her feel guilty by saying, “That wouldn’t be nice”. And while Ari is blinded by love, it’s easy to see how much control Blake’s father has over Blake’s life, which just shows how weak Blake is. I understand that that’s the point Rosenthal is trying to convey – that Blake isn’t actually the picture-perfect guy Ari thinks he is. Love interests don’t have to be likable for a story to be likable. But I was disappointed in Ari – who is such a smart girl – for not being able to recognize the signs of Blake’s imperfection and weakness. So halfway through the book, I began liking her less and less.

The middle is also when the story stops being relatable. I lost all respect for Ari when she dropped her friends and focused her entire world around Blake. I know first loves can be all-consuming, but Ari doesn’t have a particularly thriving social life. Yet she still drops Summer, a friend since childhood, and Leigh, a girl who could really use a friend, and she never really repairs these friendships. When Blake dumps her, Ari stops caring about school, her appearance, her nephews, SATs, and even considers suicide. While I’ll admit this happens to some girls, I definitely don’t feel like that it’s the norm. I had to put this book down several times so I could collect my emotions. While I admire that the author can illicit such emotions, I think she did so at the cost of alienating the reader from the protagonist. The ending makes me feel slightly better, but it’s not enough to redeem Ariadne in my eyes.

That being said, I think the writing is superb and Rosenthal clearly knows New York City very well. The descriptions of the city sound genuine and really ground Other Words for Love in the specific time period Rosenthal chose (1980s). I really enjoyed the detailed glimpse in the city and Rosenthal’s exploration of a dysfunctional family is very intriguing. I definitely enjoyed the psychological aspects of this novel, but while I think this is an interesting take on first love, I don’t think it’s a story many girls will be able to relate to.

Rating: : ★★★☆☆

Christina:  There are so many different ways to promote books these days. The one way that I completely trust is when everyone (with nothing to gain for doing so) is buzzing about a book as enthusiastically as they were for Other Words For Love. So I’m with Ivy on this one – I completely loved it.

The characters in this book were incredible. Each character was unique, so well fleshed out and had these realistic personalities with both virtues and flaws. Some characters you’ll completely hate and others you’ll grow to understand. Some of them were even quite cruel at times like Evelyn and Summer, who would say certain things that would make me go – GAAAAAASPPPPPPPPPPP! OHHHHH, she did not just say that!  I wanted to dive into the pages, step beside Ari and serve them a swift kick to head for how they acted. This just goes to show how invested you become in these characters and Ari’s story.

What really hit me was just how authentic I felt the emotions expressed in the book were. Everything Ari felt, from her elation at being with Blake, to her eventual heartbreak just felt so so real. Her feelings in the end might seem dramatic but if you’ve ever been heartbroken that’s exactly what it’s like – the colors fade to gray, food seems pointless and you’re stuck in a rut you don’t bother to get out of. I loved how the way Ari felt meant that she perceived the statue of Saint Anne differently – it was very clever and so true.

The part that particular struck me the most me while Ari’s world was falling apart, she felt like all the hard work she’d done up to that point, not just in school but in life, had counted for nothing because of a slip up right at the finish line. For me that was the part where I raised my hand and said “Oh I have been there” Which I think a lot of girls will feel the same about quite a few sections of the book.

If there was a flaw in this book I can only say it was the blurb – it gives too much away. I’ve omitted the last paragraph of the blurb in this review because it basically gives half the story away and I was able to have a good guess about what would happen in the rest. BUT! Despite that, the story’s execution was superb and even though I’d already been told what would happen it didn’t make it any less interesting or heartbreaking or amazing, which proves just how great this book is.

Ari’s life in New York in the 1980s was completely fascinating to read about, in particular to note what has changed and what is still the same. Even after finishing it I couldn’t stop thinking about this story for days after. I was so proud of Ari and what she managed to accomplish in the end, her experiences made her so much stronger. Sign me up for every thing Lorraine Zago Rosenthal writes next. Highly, highly, highly, recommend it.

Rating: : ★★★★★

Two out of the three of us loved it, the other, not quite feeling it. Which side of the fence are you on?

Pages: 354
Publication Date: January 2011
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Challenge: Historical Fiction/Debut Author
Average Rating: : ★★★★½

Teaser Quote: “I was looking out the window, checking for neighbors and hoping to give them something to see, when I felt Blake’s hand on my chin. I looked at him, at his straight nose and his perfectly carved lips, and felt his finger move back and forth on my skin. Don’t ask me, I thought. Just do it.”