Title: Fields Notes on Love
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Publication Date: March 5, 2019
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
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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?
I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to PRH Global and Fay @ Bibliophile Soprano!
Field Notes on Love has the kind of premise I’d usually scoff at- two strangers agreeing to travel together by train? It doesn’t see like the kind of thing which could happen in real life. Maybe it can’t happen in real life, maybe it can, but that’s not the point of the story. Regardless of how believable I found it to be, it was a highly engaging and entertaining read.
At its heart, I’d call this a coming-of-age story. At the start of the book, both experience a certain upheaval in their lives- Mae when she gets rejected from film school, and Hugo when his girlfriend breaks up with him. These experiences bring them together on an adventure which sees them grow as people on the trip of a lifetime. This is undoubtedly a YA Contemporary Romance, yes. And it is very romantic and I liked Mae and Hugo getting to know each other better and gradually falling in love. It’s sweet and fluffy, with a dash of angst and pain, the way I like my romance books to be.
However, the character arcs of both characters and how they grow and start to think about what they really want to do as adult is what I’d say was the highlight of the book for me. Mae and Hugo are both interesting characters with their own issues. Mae wants to be a filmmaker but she has a tendency to be closed off, preventing her work from being seen as truly personal. Hugo has been boxed in and defined by his being a sextuplet, hindering his own personal growth. How they resolved both of their own issues made for a very interesting read.
Overall, I highly recommend Field Notes on Love if you’re into YA Contemporary and want something a bit on the lighter side but with strong character arcs.
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About the Author:
JENNIFER E. SMITH is the author of eight books for young adults, including Windfall and The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. She earned a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and her work has been translated into thirty-three languages. She currently lives in New York City.