Review: Love and Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan

Title: Love and Other Foreign Words
Author: Erin McCahan
Genre: YA, contemporary
Publisher/Publication Date: Dial / May 1, 2014
How Did I Get It? Gifted!
Format? Hardcover

Synopsis from Goodreads: Perfect for fans of John Green and Rainbow Rowell, Love and Other Foreign Words is equal parts comedy and coming of age–a whip-smart, big-hearted, laugh-out-loud love story about sisters, friends, and what it means to love at all.

Can anyone be truly herself–or truly in love–in a language that’s not her own?

Sixteen-year-old Josie lives her life in translation. She speaks High School, College, Friends, Boyfriends, Break-ups, and even the language of Beautiful Girls. But none of these is her native tongue — the only people who speak that are her best friend Stu and her sister Kate. So when Kate gets engaged to an epically insufferable guy, how can Josie see it as anything but the mistake of a lifetime? Kate is determined to bend Josie to her will for the wedding; Josie is determined to break Kate and her fiancé up. As battles are waged over secrets and semantics, Josie is forced to examine her feelings for the boyfriend who says he loves her, the sister she loves but doesn’t always like, and the best friend who hasn’t said a word — at least not in a language Josie understands.

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My rating for this book is actually a bit odd – I’ve given it four stars, but it’s actually earned a spot on my favorites shelf. Objectively, it’s four stars, because there we some flaws in the book which I’ll detail later. But personally, I connected with this book so much, especially with Josie. I swear, it was like McCahan took 15 year old me and shoved her into a hardback cover. I wasn’t gripping the pages, rushing to see what would happen next, but this story was one of those slow, meandering ones that I enjoyed a few chapters of before bed.

Like I said – Josie could practically be my twin. The confusion of how to communicate with her peers in high school, starting college at 15, the sensory issues, all of it! Especially the sensory issues; I was FREAKING out, yelling at my mom and shoving the book in her face to say MA SHE GETS IT WITH THE SOCK SEAMS AND THE TOUCHING AND THE HAIR BRUSHING AND THE PONYTAILS. I’ve never read a book before where the protagonist has sensory overloads, and honestly I’m finally starting to understand the whole “representation in YA” issue. Because this is such a little thing, but I was able to say, “she understands,” and that’s something every reader should be able to experience. /soapbox

In identifying with Josie so much, I had a really hard time being objective with the rest of the characters. I thought Geoff was the biggest douche-wad ever and I just wanted to tell him to stick it where the sun don’t shine, and it was such a struggle to step back and realize, hey, maybe he’s just a bit nervous and has the best intentions but doesn’t communicate that well to Josie. But the one issue that I really couldn’t get over was Kate’s attitude towards Josie’s physical appearance. I mean, forcing someone to wear contacts because “glasses won’t look right in pictures” and insisting that she get her ears pierced? Way too much for me. I was just flabbergasted that Kate had the gall to say that to her sister, especially in front of other people.

But I think that was the best part of the novel – the reconciliation and strengthening of relationships after hardship. It was really refreshing to see a strong family unit stick together even in their arguments. Plus, I just really have to give a round of applause to Josie’s parents for making sure she was as challenged as could be, and encouraging her to embrace her intelligence in a healthy way. It reminded me of my parents, and how they made sure I was able to go to college at such a young age. Like I said; so many of Josie’s experiences are ones I shared as well.

But there was one pitfall to the book: the ending. I felt like the romance came out of nowhere (even though I knew it was going to happen sooner or later), and was resolved a bit too quickly. Like I was going on all these twists and turns at a nice steady pace, then the last 30 pages came at me all at once, then hit a wall abruptly. I was a bit startled to find that it had ended, but I guess that just means that I loved it so much that I wanted more!

In the end, I stick with my 4 star rating. I think it’s suitable for the story, since I’m not keyboard smashing from excitement or anything, but it’s going to stay with me for a long time in a special little place in my heart. It’s one of those books that I’ll walk past on my shelf and smile fondly because it’s a special baby of mine.

My Final Rating:

Four stars

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Top Ten Characters To Keep Me Company While Deserted

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Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Check out their blog here!

Today’s TTT topic is: Top Ten Characters I Would Want With Me On A Deserted Island (pick based on however you want…skills they would bring, their company…or pure hotness factor :P) I actually think I’ll stick with those three categories! As long as this doesn’t go Lord of the Flies, I think I could be quite happy stuck on an island with these ten characters. I tried to get fanart for all of these characters, but some I just couldn’t find, so I put the covers instead. All art is sourced to their creators 🙂

For… skills they would bring

1. Karou from Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor. Even without the magic, Karou is intelligent and quick, and she would take charge and handle things in a crisis easily.

2. Sturmhond from Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo. I mean, who wouldn’t want to have a privateer with them? Not just for the hotness factor, I mean. He’s probably used to surviving in harsher conditions, and he could make any tough situation a bit lighter with his sarcasm and wit. 

3. Celaena Sardothian from Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. Of course I want an assassin on my side! But she’d also be nice to have for company – I mean, she loves chocolate cake. I don’t think I could hate any person who loves chocolate cake.

So. Many. Feels.
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For… their company

4. Peeta Mellark from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Oh Peeta ❤ My one true love and first book boyfriend. I’m pretty sure I could be happy just by seeing him smile every day. That’s all I’d need to survive a deserted island.

 5. Josie from Love and Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan. We could sit on the beach and complain about sock seams and shirt tags all day, and then talk about linguistics and syntax together. The time would fly by and we might actually cry when the rescue teams pick us up!

6. Cath from Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. Josie may be just like me, but Cath is my soulmate. It’s been several months since I read Fangirl, and I still can’t even properly word how much that book means to me, and how much it helped me understand myself. If I could just be with Cath for five minutes, my life would be made.

7. Emi from Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour. She’s got big ideas – maybe even too big sometimes – but I love the fact that she’s a dreamer. And she pays attention to the little details; the important parts of what makes someone unique.

For… pure hotness factor

8. North from Free to Fall by Lauren Miller. I mean, he’s a bit unconventional, but I’m a sucker for forearm tattoos. And when they reference literature? *swoon* Plus, he’s the most respectful character I’ve read about in a while. World is ending and girl is throwing herself at you? Nah, son, let’s save the sexy times for when we’re not acting out of fear. *swooning again*

9. Raffe from Angelfall by Susan Ee. *fans self* Let’s not get me started. This snarky asshole is the bane of my existence.

Yeah, I don’t like you either.
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10. Matt Finch from Open Road Summer by Emery Lord. He could serenade us while we all watch the sunset. Now tell me that isn’t a beautiful, beautiful dream…

11. Levi from Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. I need a Levi. Seriously, someone make one for me. Or buy one. I’m not too concerned about ethics in this situation.

THIS SCENE
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I just have to make a note here that while I’ve never read the Heroes of Olympus (just a few more months till the boxed set is released… patience, my love), y’all need to see this art. Oh lawd.

That’s my list for this week – link me yours below!