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