Sunday, August 10, 2014

Teen review: Languages

Reviewed by Amy Sepulveda, grade 10

Love and Other Foreign Words, by Erin McCahan, is a 331-page young adult fiction novel for an 8th- to 10th-grade reading level.

Told from the point of view of Josie, Love and Other Foreign Words explores the many different languages spoken in both home and school environments. For example, she and her sisters may speak one language, while she and her sports teams may speak another. Many different languages are spoken as she goes back and forth every day from her college campus, where Josie is allowed to take a few courses with her friend, Stu, to her high school environment where she must finish her school day in other classes. The only language she just can never seem to learn and does not seem to become fluent in is love. A teenager like herself cannot possibly grasp the concept when her older sister brings home her new fiancé to meet Josie and their parents. Overcome with hatred for her sister’s fiancé Geoff, she then gets into fights with her sister Kate, and many more complications arise in young Josie’s bilingual life.

I believe this humorous novel was thoughtful, and insightful. It led me to ponder about the many languages I, as a reader, speak and understand. Many authors have different ways of describing particular events and use details in distinct ways that others would never have thought of doing in the same way. One only really becomes fluent in a certain author’s language once they’ve read their books multiple times, and understand what they mean by each sentence and word. Many people think of languages as just words certain ethnicities use, but there are so many more languages in this wonderful world that they cannot be counted, and one cannot possibly learn all of them, no matter how hard they try. I really do hope McCahan publishes something else as savvy as Love and Other Foreign Words in the near future, because she has an intelligent brain and an interesting way of wording things. I rate this a 5/5 for its quick-wittedness and the sharp thinking it induces.

Editor's note: The Burbank Public Library only owns this title as an e-book.

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