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Rachel Cohn & David Levithan – Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist

March 12, 2009

27. Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (2006)

Length: 192 pages

Genre: Young Adult

Started: 06 March 2009
Finished: 07 March 2009

How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 23 January 2009
Verdict? Definite Keeper.

Young love, punk music
and an all-nighter combine
in this book. So good!

Summary: When Nick’s newly-ex ex-girlfriend walks into the club where his band’s playing with another guy, Nick chooses the only sensible alternative: turn to the random girl next to him and ask her to be his girlfriend for five minutes. Norah knows (and dislikes) Nick’s ex-girlfriend, so she plays along… but that one first kiss leaves both of them reeling, and as the night progresses, they have to navigate the rocky terrain of old loves and new, as they roam the city and carefully find their way through one of the strangest first dates ever.

Review: Holy cow. Consider me well and truly blown away.

Cohn and Levithan have a magical talent that I’d heretofore thought was only the province of John Green: to get teenagerdom right. And that rightness may actually be a bit more impressive here: while I’m fairly similar to most of Green’s protagonists, and can therefore identify with them really easily, I have almost zero in common with Nick or Norah. I am not heavy into any music scene, and if I were, it wouldn’t be punk; I’ve never lived in New York City (or commuted there for a night out from Jersey); and even in high school, I would have much preferred a decent night’s sleep to spending the entire night roaming the city.

Despite all that, I felt like this novel just got it – there were parts that were actually painful to read, not because they were bad or wrong, but because they were so right that they were touching raw emotional spots leftover from teenager-hood that I didn’t realize I still had. And, even though I’m personally nothing like the protagonists, the emotions and sensations and experiences they go through are were so familiar that I’d wager they’re universal. Initially, I scoffed at Nick’s being so torn up after only a six-month relationship… and then I remembered the terrible angsty poetry I wrote at the demise of my first real (seven-month!) relationship. That’s just one example, but it felt like on every page, there was something else I recognized from my own life, something else to bring this story home and make it real.

(As another example: Argh, the front-clasp bra. Did anyone get through their formative dating years without a bad experience with one of these?)

I initially had a little trouble with the writing style – Cohn’s and Levithan’s sections compliment each other well, and watching the same situation from each person’s perspective is one of the joys of the book, but the rhythm is less “standard-fiction” and more “teenager’s-train-of-thought”, which took me a while to get used to, and I’d occasionally have to re-read sentences or paragraphs to make sure I’d gotten it. Still, I eventually got into the flow of things, and totally fell for this slim little book that contains love and heartbreak and depression and hope and all of the giddy awkward amazingness of being young. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Folks who are turned off by swearing and the idea that teenagers think about sex should probably steer clear, but otherwise, highly recommended for just about everyone.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Links: Rachel Cohn’s website, David Levithan’s website

Other Reviews: Out of the Blue, The Book Muncher, An Adventure in Reading, Ticket to Anywhere, Bookshelves of Doom, MotherReader, Em’s Bookshelf, 5 Minutes for Books, So Many Books, So Little Time, Just Listen, Life in the Thumb, Laina Has Too Much Spare Time, Book Lists Life, Just Add Books, Average Girl Reads, Bart’s Bookshelf
Did I miss your review? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: The day begins in the middle of the night.

One more movie to add to my Netflix queue… although I was thinking about it as I was reading, and I do not see Michael Cera as the straight bass player of a queercore punk band AT ALL.

Also, I need to pull David Levithan’s Boy Meets Boy off my shelf and give it another read. I read it two (three?) years ago, and while I remember thinking it was very sweet, I can recall basically no other details. One of these days…

16 Comments leave one →
  1. March 12, 2009 1:44 am

    I saw Michael Cera on Letterman promoting the movie version sometime ago. Since I find Cera funny and a bit geeky (Juno and Arrested Development) I searched for the book and bought the one with the movie tie-in cover. I’ve never had time to read it (nor watch the movie version, hahaha). This post however makes me just want to forget my world a bit, hunt for my copy and read it and then reminisce about young love over again :)

  2. March 12, 2009 9:02 am

    After your review, I’m adding this one to my wish list!

  3. March 12, 2009 9:10 am

    Lightheaded – I like Michael Cera quite a bit, and there are some aspects of Nick that I think he fits quite well. It’s just that if I were making a list of adjectives to describe him, “punk-rock” would be pretty darn far down the list.

    bermudaonion – I hope you like it!

  4. March 12, 2009 9:40 am

    This book looks awesome; I must have known the movie was a book and just forgot that or something. Anyway, I’m going to try and find this one now. Thanks!

  5. kaseyheinly permalink
    March 12, 2009 2:40 pm

    I just finished Rachel Cohn’s You Know Where to Find Me and I totally agree– she really has a way of capturing the angst I felt as a teen. It was a really moving read. I’m excited to check out more of her stuff!

  6. March 12, 2009 3:37 pm

    I enjoyed this one when I read it really liked the characters of Nick and Norah and the alternating narrative.

    http://www.bartsbookshelf.co.uk/2008/06/20/nick-and-norah%e2%80%99s-infinate-playlist-rachel-cohn-david-levithan/

    (I wasn’t so keen on their other collaborative novel Naomi & Eli’s No Kiss List, which suffers from the characters being annoying little brats. :(

    Did you know John Green and David Levithan are supposedly working on a book together?

  7. March 12, 2009 4:03 pm

    I haven’t seen the movie yet but I have to say the book sounds really good!

  8. March 12, 2009 8:10 pm

    Okay, this’s going straight onto my list of stuff to get once my TBR list goes down.

  9. March 13, 2009 8:46 am

    I remember writing lots of angsty poetry too. Hahaha. Gotta read this at some point for sure! Or at least see the movie. Love Mr. Cera!

  10. March 13, 2009 8:51 am

    I didn’t like this book as much as you did, but I agree that the authors capture the spirit of this one night and what it’s like to be a teenager.

  11. March 14, 2009 3:19 pm

    I’m glad you enjoyed this, too. I thought it was such a sweet, wonderful teen romance. I have another book by the two authors on my pile that I hope to get to soon.

  12. March 15, 2009 12:17 am

    Kim – Have you seen the movie? Any good?

    kasey – I haven’t read any of Cohn’s stuff… I’ll have to keep an eye out.

    Bart – Link added! I think I had heard about John Green’s collaboration, but it never really sunk in that this David Levithan was that David Levithan.

    Ladytink – It really was; you should definitely check it out!

    Memory – Well, you add to my TBR often enough, it seems only fair. :)

    Lenore – I actually went back and read some of my poetry… it’s pretty terrible!

    charley – I can’t remember, have you read John Green? If not, I think you’d like him!

    Darla – I’ll look forward to hearing what you think about it!

  13. March 18, 2009 4:02 pm

    Awesome review! I loved this book, and really enjoyed how the teens seemed to act so real. But I’m very hesitant about watching the movie version – there’s just something about the previews that make me think it’s not going to stay true to the book.

  14. March 19, 2009 9:30 am

    Joanne – It’s at the top of my Netflix queue, so I’ll let you know. :)

  15. April 7, 2009 12:53 am

    Sounds good, adding it to my library hold list!

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