Review Blog

May 08 2019

Field notes on love by Jennifer E. Smith

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Macmillan Children's Books, 2019. 311 pages, paperback. ISBN: 9781529014563.
(Age: Mid teens+) Recommended. Field Notes on Love is a romantic novel about two strangers travelling across America by train. Just like an old romance film, right? This story doesn't start by them catching each other's eyes from across the platform and falling helplessly in love though. No this starts with Hugo Wilkinson, who just recently got dumped by his long-term girlfriend Margaret Campbell. And her parting gift? The tickets for their long-planned train trip before they went to university. If only they had not booked it under her name, non-transferable and no exceptions. Luckily when Mae finds an ad for a replacement for Margaret Campbell for an adventure across America by train, she is certain this is what she needs to get over her rejection from film school. Now a train trip with a complete stranger might not sound like the best idea, but both of them are looking for something more. More of what? They don't know, but they might be able to help each other out.
Both Hugo and Mae's journey throughout this story are personal and moving and it was the perfect escape from my usual mystery driven reads. The little romantic moments that Hugo and Mae share together on this trip kept me reading late into the night and also into my work breaks. Jennifer E. Smith has done a wonderful job of telling a purely romantic story between two strangers. She has also managed to give so much life to the other characters as well. Both Hugo and Mae's family's feel grounded in the story, and it was refreshing to read about families that are loving and supportive and accepting of their children. And as for the travelers they met along the way, they were all interesting and different and not one of them was forgetful.
I think that this is a very refreshing young adult romance novel that would be a great read if you need a step back from drama driven stories. I would recommend it to mid-teens and up, and those who just want to enjoy a nice light romance.
Kayla Raphael

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