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The Dog Ear: Love story's new definition

By Alyssa McDonagh
On February 11, 2013

Throughout time, romantic love has always been a favorite topic amongst authors and their readers. From "Wuthering Heights" in 1847, "Gone with the Wind" in 1936 and 2011's "The Lover's Dictionary," love stories have stood the test of time. The plotlines vary but the motif of finding love, falling in love and the ensuing relationship of heartbreak never wavers. "The Lover's Dictionary" by David Levithan is one of the most unique novels I've read and the most creative approach to writing about love I've ever seen.
This novel is like a miniature Merriam-Webster Dictionary but with sparks, hope and wonder emanating from the pages instead of being defined. Levithan chooses words from A-Z and writes a sentence to a page relating to that word. The terms aren't directly defined, leaving it up to the reader to figure out the word's true definition from the context in which the storyline on that page was written. 
This is not a voluminous (defined by Levithan as: "adj. I have already spent roughly five thousand hours asleep next to you. This has to mean something.") novel. Blissfully short yet raw at the same time, Levithan makes the point that love and relationships are hard. Challenging. Romance can be found, denied, unrequited, broken, remembered, lost, endured, savored, enjoyed, rejoiced, adored. With all the struggles, it's a wonder why anyone keeps trying over and over again to find that special someone. Failed relationships can leave us jaded, but as with anything in life, allowing the failure of the past to overcome the present's prospective joy will only leave you bombarded with misery from all directions.
Your relationships are what you make of them. They are never planned. Sneaking up on you when you least expect it is how they always begin and how they should begin. You can't write in your planner a day and time that you want to be in relationship. It just happens,and when it does, you might be knocked off your feet, not knowing what hit you or how to figure out the feelings running through your head. That's okay. Forcing yourself to try and feel something you don't isn't the point. Relationships take time and when one begins, it doesn't matter how long it took to get going.
"The Lover's Dictionary" is also something you can make your own. The narrator and the significant other are nameless and genderless. Levithan may have written the novel but he liberates his readers, allowing them to picture the novel as they see it, without his influence of describing appearances, sexualities, or how the relationship ends-if it even ends at all. Readers have the power to see what they want to see in this book, with the described couple provoking memories from the past and the present, along with images of hope for the future.
When the book ends, you'll find yourself wanting more but what you want extends beyond the text and into your heart. This Valentine's Day ensure that those you care about know it. It's time to write your own dictionary to your relationship. Allow Levithan to be your inspiration and know that even if the relationship doesn't work out, you can still be grateful for the experience as it taught you about yourself and can help lead you to your future.

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