Saturday, December 06, 2014

Love and Other Foreign Words, by Erin McCahan

A precocious student, Josie has skipped a few years of school, but her social skills haven't necessarily kept up with her academic advancement.  To cope with her challenges, she's learned to speak everyone's "language" (student-teacher, her sisters, her parents, etc.).  But when Josie's sister Kate brings home a fiance, Josie is dumbfounded.  He's just obviously wrong for Kate and Josie cannot imagine what she sees in him.  Worse, the new couple have taken to communicating in a new language that Josie finds she doesn't understand -- a realization that leads to the even bigger bombshell that Josie really doesn't understand "love" at all.

For a story about language and communication, it is a good thing that McCahan excels with dialogue in this rather chatty book. Unfortunately, she is less successful with telling her story.  There are some pretty obvious directions that the story will go (reconciliation being the obvious consistent solution in all cases), but there isn't much in the first 200 pages of the book to give any indication of where McCahan intends to go.

It didn't help that I failed to gain much sympathy for Josie or Kate.  For much of the book, they were just plain mean to each other.  And, while I know full well how siblings can be, it's hard for me to believe that the parents wouldn't have more effectively stepped in.  Finally, there's that silly infatuation that Josie has over Denis DeYoung -- excuse me?!  Gag!

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