Thursday, May 22, 2014

Review: Love and Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan

I don't often read a lot of YA novels but every once in a while I find one so enticing that I have to read it. Either the premise is fantastic, my teenaged daughter has raved about it, or others who read similarly to me have said it's well worth the time. Erin McCahan's new novel, Love and Other Foreign Words, is one of those appealing, can't miss YA books and I am feeling a little smug that I found it before my daughter so I have one to recommend to her instead of the other way around.

Josie is fifteen going on sixteen and she is completely brilliant. A certifiable genius, she's in high school and college simultaneously.  She likes precision and verifiable facts.  As easy and interesting as she finds school work, she is still baffled by the intangibles of life.  She navigates her own life as different countries each with different languages, which she speaks with varying degrees of success. The one language she doesn't understand at all is Love. And when her adored older sister Kate gets engaged to the odious Geoff, she realizes just how little of love she understands. So Josie sets out on a quest to show Kate why Geoff is all wrong for her and to get the wedding called off. As she delves deeper into Kate's love life, Josie might learn a little bit about love herself too.

Josie is sweet and hilarious, smart but sometimes clueless, and her family is fantastic. Their banter and love for each other shines through the pages. As Josie explores relationships and crushes and all their attendant humiliations and giant-sized emotions, she is completely endearing. As Josie is the narrator, the reader identifies with her and her perspective, even while knowing that no matter how smart she is, she's still a teenager with not very much life experience behind her. Each of the other characters is seen through her eyes and colored by her feelings about them.  They aren't all enormously developed but each serves their purpose in the novel well and their interactions with Josie help her to grow and mature as the novel moves onward.  She is very analytical, examining things, studying them as she would study a course. The way that she perceives the language around her is fascinating as she picks up on hidden contexts and unspoken meanings, coming at "different" language as an outsider rather than a native.  A unique perspective on coming of age, this is a quick, charming, and cute read and Josie is that rare teenager with whom you wish you could actually spend more time rather than less, a genuine delight.

For more information about Erin McCahan and the book, check out her website, her Facebook page, follow her on Twitter, or connect with her on GoodReads. Take a look at the amazon reviews for others' thoughts and opinions on the book.

Thanks to Janay from Book Sparks PR and the publisher for sending me a copy of the book for review.

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