Macy Sorensen’s life falls apart one day when she is seventeen years old. More than a decade later when her paths cross that of Elliot Petropoulos, her best friend and best everything, she is reminded of the wounds she tried so hurriedly to gloss over.
Although I read and loved The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren, I wasn’t sure if and when I’d pick up any of their other works.
But I saw Love and Other Words mentioned in someone’s Instagram reel as one of the “books I’d sell my soul to read for the first time again”, and I thought I’d give it a try.
The writing is bright and filled with emotion. Despite the heaviness of the topics dealt with, there’s a sense of comfort that permeates their writing.
At the heart of this adult contemporary romance, what works the best is Macy & Elliot’s friendship; their honest, open friendship since their teenage years is something so endearing and captured so well through the alternating chapters that you can’t set the book down.
The narrative follows a past-present structure, which I am fond of as it adds depth to the storytelling.
While you get the gist that something severe caused Macy & Elliot to be estranged, it’s only towards the end that you find out what it was. Up until that part of the book, I was prepared to rate this a 4.5/ 5 stars. I was enjoying reading it so so much!
But then the “reason” is explained, and I wasn’t persuaded. For a while, I was disappointed that this is the angle the authors chose for Macy & Elliot’s separation.
That said, it has also helped me reflect on my thinking. Because I read a discussion about this incident and how other readers perceived it is totally different from my reaction (at the time of reading) but it makes sense. I wish this whole thing had been treated with more clarity and tact.
The themes explored in Love and Other Words are the loss of a loved one, coming of age, friends like family, grief, and trauma. It is not entirely a lighthearted read.
Macy’s mother, although having passed away, has a strong presence throughout the novel. The list she had prepared (for Macy’s dad) to help parent Macy is heartening and lends direction to the story.
There are so many more aspects to love about this novel – the weekend home surrounded by nature, Macy & Elliot being ardent readers, Elliot’s large family welcoming Macy, both of them growing up together, and Macy’s bond with her dad.
I just wish the revelation hadn’t dampened my reading experience.
If you’re looking for a heartfelt contemporary novel, I would suggest that you pick it up but go above and beyond what’s explicitly stated.