Friday, October 3, 2008

A whirlwind night of romance

Nick plays in a band, and the last person he wants to see when he's up on stage is his ex-girlfriend, who promised she wouldn't come to see any of his shows after they broke up. But here she is, and seeing her makes his heart feel like it's being ripped apart and stomped on all over again. Later, in the bar, he sees her heading toward him with her new boyfriend. On an uncharacteristic impulse he turns to a girl sitting near him at the bar. "This is going to sound strange," he says. "But would you mind begin my girlfriend for the next five minutes?"

The following chapter switches to Nora's point of view, and we see Nick through her eyes as she, uncharacteristically for her, answers his question by pulling his face to hers and kissing him. She does not expect to react to his kiss the way she does. She was, in fact, trying to avoid a girl she knows. She does not expect that girl to be the ex-girlfriend that Nick is also trying to avoid. And so the story begins, told in alternating points of view, in a convoluted tale of relationships, broken hearts, friendships and the possibility of love springing up where it is least expected.

I loved this little book - it was a sweet romance with characters that I quickly grew to care about. I loved the way music and how the characters felt about music was such an integral part of the story (and it recalled a few playlists that my husband made for me way-back-when and how I still feel when I hear some of those songs!). I loved the fact that there are characters in the novel who happen to be gay, but it's not an issue or a plot point or an axe to grind; it's simply part of the story, part of who these characters and their friends are. I loved that the characters did stupid things and made mistakes and used those things to understand themselves and their world and their friends. I loved the humor that was always near the surface and the way the dialog revealed so much about the characters. I expect this book is not for every reader, however. There is some profanity and sexual content, but nothing that didn't seem to me to be true to the characters and necessary to the story.

I'd love to say that I purposefully read and reviewed this just in time for the release of the film today, but it is actually purely coincidental! I doubt I'll enjoy the film as much, though - I keep reading the words "loosely based," which makes it sound like they fiddled around with it till it became the same old predictable storyline of every formula film. But maybe I'll be happily mistaken.

Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (Alfred A. Knopf, 2006)

Also reviewed at:
The Book Spot
Jen Robinson's Book Page
Living the Fictional Dream


  1. I looove this book. My friends and I are going to watch the movie tomorrow. I watched the trailer and it does seem like there are some major changes. But I'm hoping it'll still be good.

  2. I hope so too, RR2. I can't wait to hear what you think of it (and please let me know if I should go or wait till it comes out on DVD) - thanks!

  3. Okay, I might see this movie after all....

  4. i read a script review of the film several months ago that has left me skeptical. but i might prefer to read the book. may i still pretend that nick is Michael Cera?

  5. Ladytink - please review it if you do go see it - I'll be interested to hear how you like it!

    Molly - it's a short book, a quick, gripping read - I think you'd like it. And by all means, pretend away! :-)

  6. Must. Read. This. Book.! This sounds like exactly my kind of book and I really need to check it out...then see the movie AFTER!

  7. Chris - I hope you do read it - I can't wait to hear what you think! I bet you'll enjoy it. :-)

  8. I missed the film in the UK (it has already been and gone sadly) which is a shame as it had the lad from Juno and SuperBad in it. This sounds like a fun book and I will put it on my list and send you the bill :p

  9. I'll probably be catching it on DVD too - I don't get out to the movies that much these days, sadly. Well, I do see most of the kid-friendly ones! But the rest we just wait till they're released on DVD. I know you'll like the book, though!

  10. Why did I only first hear about this book on Friday when I heard a radio interview from the actress who plays Nora on my way to work? Have I seriously been living in such a black hole that I haven't even seen a movie preview or one book review EVER?

    I'll definitely read the book first and then wait for the movie to come out on DVD...with a 19-month-old, actual trips to the theater are rate.

    Thanks for your review!

  11. ummm...I meant to say rare instead of rate...must. get. sleep.

  12. Jill - I read "rare" the first time, anyway, lol! I read Gingerbread by Cohn a few years ago and really enjoyed the characters - it's edgy, contemporary YA, which I don't read as often as I do historical and fantasy, and I really liked it. I just sort of found this one on the shelf and thought it looked good, but it took me ages to get to it. I feel like I'm in a black hole half the time, too - I know how you feel!


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