Love and Other Foreign Words
Love and Other Foreign Words
Erin McCahan
ISBN 9780803740518
Dial/Penguin, 2014.
5 stars
Keywords: erin-mccahan family friendship gifted-students love-and-other-foreign-words romance sisterhood

Love and Other Foreign Words
by Erin McCahan

Readers will fall for Josie Sheridan, the charming and funny genius narrator of this contemporary novel about navigating the rough waters of love in its many forms.

Josie, who turns 16 during the course of the book, likes to have a formula for everything. She does not like change. She feels at home in her family--she's the youngest of three daughters of happily married parents--and with their neighbors, the Wagemakers. Auntie Pat and Uncle Ken Wagemaker are her parents' closest friends, and their children, Sophie and Stu, are Josie's closest friends. Josie's banter with Stu, also a genius, provides the high points and through line of the novel. When Josie's middle sister, Kate, brings home Geoff, and announces their engagement, it rocks Josie's world ("Are we to have no more confidences as sisters now?" Josie asks Kate). Josie decides she needs to fall in love in order to earn credibility with Kate and halt this marriage. But Josie discovers that though she has a passion for words and speaks many languages, love is one she can't seem to master.

Erin McCahan achieves a rare feat: she creates a family with distinct, admirable characters. Josie's parents are there for her but also give her room to navigate uncharted waters. The exchanges between Josie and her father are among the best in YA literature. As with her oil-and-water reaction to Geoff, Josie sometimes misses what's right in front of her. Readers may see the ending coming before Josie does, but that's also what's so lovable about Josie.

This review first appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers.
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