Author: Erin McCahan
Check this book out on Goodreads.
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. (Source: Goodreads)
Okay, I have a lot of feeling about this book. And most of it is very hard to put into words. I had a hard time deciding how I felt about this book because for about half of this book I hated everything about it and half of it I loved everything about it. And often it was overlapping bits that I hated and loved. This book made me feel a lot of things.
First of all I want to say that Josie is not a character who is easy to like. At all. She is difficult to like sometimes, I often found myself disliking her immensely. I think, for me, a lot of this had to do with the fact that Josie is very much like me. Everything about her was me spelled out in a book and I could see all these flaws in Josie, her judging attitude, her over-thinking, all of it was me and it was so hard to read. It was so easy to dislike her because she was me. Eventually I loved her for this, for being for me and for growing like I have over the years to be this, still confused, but more refined version of herself and of me. If you are not a Josie you might find her annoying and puzzling, which is totally understandable, I’m a Josie and I still found her annoying. But her anxiety and growth made me love her.
The key conflict through a lot of this book is her dislike for her sister’s fiance. This conflict was at times what made Josie such a dislikeable character. She is so against Geoff that it starts to grate on you, because it’s not any of her business. However, throughout this book I really marvelled at the fact that McCahan managed to make such a wholly unlikeable character in Geoff. I mean, right from the first meeting I was so annoyed with him. His comments on Josie’s mother’s cooking made me so outraged:
“If you don’t mind me saying, there was a bit too much basil in the sauce, but it’s a common mistake American cooks make.” (p. 37)
And his general disregard for Josie’s personal boundaries and comfort really made me uncomfortable because I also experience Sensual Overexcitability like Josie and really dislike being touched. All of this stuff was just stacked up against him and made him so annoying and offensive to me that I was raging my way through Josie and Geoff’s interactions too. But then…Geoff is just Josie. It took a while for me to notice it…but he is. And it really made him more endearing. He’s just this complex little bundle of weird interests, nerves, anxieties, and confusion over this new tight-knit family that he’s joining.
A lot of this book is about learning what love is. I feel like this is kind of an overdone concept…like teenagers spend ages agonizing over love. I don’t really think I did. I had crushes but it never bothered me too much. So, I found this whole agony of what love is a little annoying and difficult to read. I think it really fixed itself up by the end though, and turned out wonderfully.
By the end of this book I was laughing myself to tears. McCahan had such a funny voice in Josie at times, and the situations she was in were very funny. This book also had me in tears at times because of Josie’s friendship struggles, which I found a much more interesting storyline than the “what is love” plot. Maybe they overlapped in the end and that’s what corrected it.
I didn’t give this book a perfect score because so much of the time when I was reading I was so annoyed by it. However, I highly recommend this book. I thought it was sweet, funny, and very fun.
Have you read Love and Other Foreign Words? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
Check out Erin McCahan at her website, Goodreads, and Twitter.
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