Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren tells the story of Macy and Elliot, who start out as childhood friends and over the course of the years, their friendship evolves and complicates. Macy, a pediatrics resident who’s engaged to Sean, an artist, comes face to face with her past one random day at a coffee shop. She runs into Elliot, her first love, who she hadn’t seen in over 10 years. The sight of him brings up their complicated past and begins the retelling of their friendship, where Macy is forced to deal with everything she’s buried over the years and how it will potentially affect her future.
Macy and Elliot’s story is told in a dual timeline where almost every chapter bounces between the past and the present. Young Macy meets a young Elliot during an open house, where she finds him hiding away in a closet reading a book. What becomes Macy’s closet gets converted into her own library where she and Elliot spend their time reading mostly in silence during her weekend visits. Flipping back to the present, Macy is engaged to Sean, an artist and single dad, whom she had met and became engaged to months prior. Macy describes her relationship with Sean as “easy,” as she appeared in Sean and his daughter’s Phoebe’s lives and seemingly just fit in. With her busy schedule, and the fact that they had only know each other for a few months, Macy is not in a rush to plan her wedding to Sean, though her plan to marry him is in jeopardy after she runs into Elliot.
Common Themes + Opinions:
The big underlying theme in this story is dealing with grief. Early on in the book, we learn that Macy’s mom died when she was younger, losing her battle to cancer, leaving Macy and her father on their own. Macy’s mom left her husband a list of things to do for Macy as she grew up, sort of like a guide to help raise her even after death. In it is where the idea for the weekend cabin comes about, and how she met Elliot in the first place. Before meeting Elliot, and even a few years after, Macy was still grieving her mom. She finally found solace in Elliot to be vulnerable with him and share more about her mother to help her deal with her grief. And though it seemingly felt like she was slowly chipping at it, she still carried it around. When Macy runs into Elliot at the coffee shop and he asks her about her dad, we learn she lost him too.
It’s not revealed until later in the book what happens to Macy’s dad, but the revelation helps put Macy’s present into perspective. Macy hadn’t properly dealt with the grief of losing her parents. She still carried some grief of losing her mom when she lost her dad, on top of some other major events that occurred. Her life fell apart in an instant where Macy just began cruising through life without really feeling anything. It’s not until she’s with Elliot that she understands the magnitude of the last 15 years, and his effect on her ability to deal with her emotions.
Final Thoughts + Ratings:
I’ll be honest and say this was a bit challenging to read. One, because it’s a slow burn so you have to patiently wait for things to happen. And two, because Macy underwent so much trauma, stuff that she struggled to deal with, all in such a short span of time. I felt horrible for her teenaged self who had to endure so much, and on her own. She basically lost everything, and in an instant with just seeing Elliot at the coffee shop for the first time in years, she finally had a chance to have something familiar back in her life.
Again, Love and Other Words is definitely a slow burn, so it’ll take a while to get to understand the events that shaped Macy and Elliot. In that time though, you get to see Macy and Elliot grow up and learn how to love each other, which I found incredibly sweet; they were their first everything. Overall, I give this one five stars. Christina and Lauren have a real knack for writing captivating books – I read this one in a day! As for the spice, this one was mild, given that a good chunk of this book deals with teenaged characters, though they eventually get physical and it feels a little more scandalous than it does sexy.
Have you read Love and Other Words? Let me know in the comments!