Field Notes on Love – Jennifer E. Smith – Delacorte Press – Published March 5 2019
Having just been dumped by his girlfriend, British-born Hugo is still determined to take his last-hurrah-before-college train trip across the United States. One snag: the companion ticket is already booked under the name of his ex, Margaret Campbell. Nontransferable, no exceptions.
Enter the new Margaret C. (Mae for short), an aspiring filmmaker with big dreams. After finding Hugo’s spare ticket offer online, she’s convinced it’s the perfect opportunity to expand her horizons.
When the two meet, the attraction is undeniable, and both find more than they bargained for. As Mae pushes Hugo to explore his dreams for his future, he’ll encourage her to channel a new, vulnerable side of her art. But when life off the train threatens the bubble they’ve created for themselves, will they manage to keep their love on track?
Okay, I loved every bit of this cheery, fun, train-riding, sweet-kisses story. Field Notes on Love is about growing up and deciding who you want to be, about finding where and with whom you belong, and it’s about falling in love and enjoying the ride. It’s sweet, romance and utterly delectable.
The last thing Hugo expects just before he and his girlfriend depart on a trip across the US is to be dumped. But that’s exactly what happens. And it turns out her parting gift, the tickets for the trip, are all in her name, non-transferable. So Hugo, with a little help from his five siblings, creates an ad for a Margaret Campbell to join him on his journey. For Mae, the ad looking for someone with her name to share a train trip seems the perfect opportunity to get away from the rejection of not getting into the film program at college. Hugo and Mae aren’t looking for love – they’re not really even looking for friendship. But it’s hard to ignore the deepening connection between them. But if life is pulling them in different directions is it wise to start something?
I loved one of the quotes from this book that perfectly sum up this story. ‘“It’s not supposed to reflect reality,” she said. “Reality is all well and good. But sometimes you just want to pretend the world is a better place than it actually is. That great and wonderful things can happen. That love triumphs over everything.”’ For me, that sums up this book perfectly. Great, wonderful and love triumphs everything. Maybe two teens can’t fall in love over just one week. Maybe reality isn’t that lovely and happy. But gosh darn, I loved reading this book and totally believing that, yep, maybe they can and, yep, maybe it is.
Hugo and Mae just work. So very well. Hugo, with his crazy-large family, his conflict between wanting to stay and belong and wanting to spread his wings. Hugo with his wry humour and British accent. Mae with her desire to be the best, avoiding the criticism on something she made and loved, and the harsh reality that what she thought was brilliant wasn’t appreciated by someone else. Mae, with her no-nonsense, just do-it style. They might only spend a week together, but Mae and Hugo fit together like long-lost puzzle pieces.
I loved Mae’s Nana, with her take on love and living, with her sense of humour and outgoing spirit. I loved Hugo’s large and slightly crazy family and how they each came alive on the page, even through one-line group chat messages. I loved Mae’s dads – funny and protective. I loved the people Hugo and Mae meet and interview on their trip. This book is about celebrating life and you can feel every bit of that just jump off the page.
Field Notes on Love is a fun and easy book to read and delight in. I’m going to enjoy recommending this book to our library readers, knowing that they too will love this fun and totally swoon-worthy, smile-inducing YA romance.
Category: Young adult fiction
Themes: Romance, travel, trains, family, siblings, college, films, alternative families, LGBT, parents, sextuplets, dating, coming of age.
Reading age guide: Ages 12 and up.
Advisory: Vague sexual references.
Published: 5 March 2019 by Delacorte Press
Format: Hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook. 271 pages.