Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith

My Rating:

 

OMG is it a book review? Has this blog actually returned to its original roots?

I tend to ignore amazon’s recommendations for books they think I’d enjoy because most of them… when I read the synopsis of them. I’m just like… really amazon, really? Why on Earth would you think I would like a book about a half-angel half-demon sorceress who’s the only person left in this world after a cataclysmic world shattering event and is forced to attend a school of witchery and wizardcraft… or whatever, I just thought of that off the top of my head, but most of the times, I feel like amazon is mixing me up with somebody else, somebody who has a more questionable taste in books, though then again, I suppose my own tastes can be questionable?

But for once, amazon actually suggested a book that sounded pretty interested….

Enter Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith.

Field Notes on Love is about a Brit named Hugo, who was recently dumped by his long-term girlfriend Margaret Campbell. Hugo is one of 6 sextuplets who’s about to enter university just because he’s one of 6 sextuplets, and his mom had a blog about them, and basically used her stories and social media about raising her sextuplets to make the big bucks. And when the sextuplets were born, some wealthy donor donated six scholarships to a local university for the sextuplets and that time has come for the sextuplets to use that scholarship. But meanwhile, before Hugo and Margaret were going their separate ways [Margaret was off to school in California], she arranged for one last hurrah and planned a train trip across the United States for her and Hugo. But then Margaret dumps Hugo’s ass [she probably was only with him for the blog/social media fame anyways, IMO] but still gifts him with the tickets. The problem is that the tickets are in her name: Margaret Campbell, and the only way Hugo can still go on the trip is if he finds another Margaret Campbell to go on the trip with him.

Enter Mae aka Margaret Campbell from New York City, an aspiring filmmaker, who’s about to go to school in California and agrees to be his next Margaret Campbell.

SPOILER ALERT BUT OBVIOUS SPOILER ALERT because c’mon it’s young adult lit- but also because it’s basically right in the summary of the story- Hugo and Margaret Campbell Squared fall in love, so not only do they have to deal with their own personal feelings towards each other, but they also have to face things on their own personal journeys as to travel across the country.

I’m not much for love stories, though you have to admit, it’s really hard to avoid a love story, especially if you are into the teen lit/young adult genre, where it seems like every single book is another love story, but I do love myself a good travel story.

I’ve traveled to different places in many ways. I’ve road-tripped across a good majority of the United States, I’ve taken cruises to different countries before, but I’ve never really seen the country via a train-ride, though that’s not exactly true… When I was 12, I went to a teen-travel camp, and our final teen trip was to Disney World, and we took a train there, but I was 12, and the only thing I really remember about it is playing dirty mad libs with my other equally as immature friends, tuna sandwiches from the food car, and trying to sleep on a train, which was really uncomfortable, and then occasionally back when I was dating a guy in Philly, I’d sometimes take an Amtrak to and from NJ to Philly, but that was maybe an hour or so train-ride, and I mainly listened to music using the USB port on my chair to keep my iPod charged.

I’ve thought about taking a train vacation.  I play a lot of Ticket to Ride and it’d be fun to actually travel the train routes I try so hard to build to win the game… But that would also be a lot more planning then I’m used to, and I’m not completely convinced I actually want to do it, but moving on, the fact that this book was about a sight-seeing journey was what appealed to me because I love reading road trip books [or really any sort of trip] and reading characters thoughts/feelings/descriptions of places I may or may not be familiar with.

Moving on, though if you still read this blog, you have to admit, you read it mostly for my sarcasm and personal tangents, not for the actual book review contents, right?

Anyhow, I gave this book four-stars. I don’t know how I feel about the “falling in love in a week” thing that seems to be so prevalent in all YA novels, but I can look past that and accept it. I really enjoyed reading about the physical journeys and the mental journeys that Mae and Hugo went through in this book and the things they learned about themselves.

As characters go, I mean Mae and Hugo were pretty relateable. Mae grew up in NYC, has two dads, wants to be an aspiring filmmaker, got rejected from her dream film program, and makes it her goal to make that one amazing video that will set her on the path to the career she wants, whereas Hugo is sort of sick of the limelight he gets from being a sextuplet and just longs to do his own thing and be one person instead of one of six persons. I think those are totally relateable things. Granted, I don’t have five brothers and/or sisters [one brother was plenty], but who doesn’t want to be their own person and discover who they are as an individual? And it might take awhile to figure out who that person is. I’m pretty sure it took most of my life up to this point to figure out who I actually am. I don’t want to be a filmmaker like Mae, instead I’ve always wanted to be a writer, and I’ve taken tons of creative writing courses, I got some pretty harsh criticism [here’s to you high school creative writing and college creative writing poetry], but eventually I found my voice as a writer [not as in writing blog entries, as in writing the novels I hope to publish one day with BFFL Hillary].

There was nothing superficial or fake about either of them. Neither of them were perfect. Hugo has a tendency to lose things like his wallet and is a little scatter-brained, and Mae has a tough time expressing her emotions and letting people in. They weren’t barbie dolls or Adonis’, they’re just two teenagers trying to figure out who they actually are in this world, and I think anyone can relate to that.

[HUGE SPOILER UNDERNEATH CUT, BE WARNED!!!!]

I don’t think there’s a way to uncut a cut, so I’ll end that part of the review by saying this was a well-written YA book and I enjoyed reading it. It told a good story, and it was a relateable story, at least for me personally. It’s a nice easy read, and I enjoyed it. But don’t expect anything deep with this book. It’s a YA romance, and those aren’t exactly the deepest and most complex stories.

Trigger Warnings: Nothing I feel like there needs to be a warning about, this book was very clean and probably PG-rated.

And well that’s it. Unfortunately [or fortunately depending on why you read this blog], this book wasn’t really a gif-worthy snark fest. I actually enjoyed the story. What a rarity. If you want a nice easy read about falling in love and traveling, this is a good story for you. If you want a life-changing novel that changes your outlook on life, this IS NOT the book for you, but it was an enjoyable read as long as you take it for what it is, just another young adult love story.

Moving on:

But what really brought this book to a more personal level to me was…

Towards the end of Mae and Hugo’s trip, Mae got a text message telling her her grandmother had died during her trip.

That was me. Back in 2010 [holy shit was it really that long ago?], I went to Israel on Birthright. I won’t talk much about that, I posted about it a long time ago, so you can read that if you want. I spent 10 days in Israel, thinking I was discovering myself [spoiler alert: I didn’t, it was a meaningful trip and I’m glad I went, but I think I cared more about fitting in and being cool than actually appreciating Israel, though I don’t regret going, I learned a lot about my history and roots, but I do regret my behavior, I wish I would’ve taken the time to get to know more people and made more meaningful friendships and things instead of just trying to party and have fun].

I remember it was the last day at the Kibbutz, and I had called my parents on one of the rare instances that the time-zones aligned. My parents asked me to call my grandpa, so I did, and told him a little bit about Israel and promised to see him when I got home.

The ten days passed, and the plane landed at the airport, and I saw my dad and brother standing there, and that’s when I knew something was wrong because my plane landed at 1 am, and my parents had told me they were sending a car because that was way too late for them, so seeing my dad and brother there… that wasn’t good news.

My grandpa had died when I was in Israel, and I didn’t even get to say goodbye. My grandfather had refused to let my family call me when he had taken a turn for the worse because he wanted me to enjoy my Israel experience. I wasn’t even given a chance to get a flight back, say goodbye or anything. I missed the funeral and everything. I never had closure. To this day, I’m still angry about it, I understand it was what my grandpa wanted, and who knew if I had flown back from Israel in record time if I would’ve even made it to say goodbye, but I wish I had been given an option.

When Mae got that text message from her dads about her nana passing away and she wasn’t there to say goodbye, that’s when I was like damn, I understand everything Mae is feeling right now and it really hit me hard.

[yes this paragraph is repeated, for those of you who chose to venture under the cut….]

And well that’s it. Unfortunately [or fortunately depending on why you read this blog], this book wasn’t really a gif-worthy snark fest. I actually enjoyed the story. What a rarity. If you want a nice easy read about falling in love and traveling, this is a good story for you. If you want a life-changing novel that changes your outlook on life, this IS NOT the book for you, but it was an enjoyable read as long as you take it for what it is, just another young adult love story.

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