David Levithan, the co-author of such books as Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist and Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares (reviewed on this blog), has produced something wonderful in The Lover’s Dictionary.
This book is so different from anything I’ve ever read that I’m not sure I have the vocabulary to discuss it, but it is so wonderful that I find I must try. First published in her blog for the New York Times, And the Pursuit of Happiness is an illustrated journal of Kalman’s democratic travel. I know that is an odd turn of phrase, but it is accurate. She visits different places throughout the U.S., including historical sites, the presidential innaguration, a New England town meeting, and military bases and then reflects on how our democratic freedoms are represented. It sounds so dry, but she has a delightful sense of humor and an ability to be reverent without lowering her writing into sentimentality. The reflections are surrounded by her quirky drawings, photographs, and scans of leaves that she picks up along the way. Kalman combines a travelogue, history lesson, and discussion of democratic values into an uplifting portrayal of America.