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My name is Ardis and I am an avid reader and budding writer. I want to share my love of books with others. I work with kids and am interested in finding and creating books that will ignite the reader in everyone. Contact me at: ardis.atkins@gmail.com

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Thursday, May 16, 2019

Audio ARC Review: Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43601774-field-notes-on-love?ac=1&from_search=true
Please Note:  I received an advance audio copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  This did not influence the opinions of my review in any way.

Synopsis (From Goodreads):
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?


Review:
YA books often have rather contrived premises, and Field Notes On Love, by Jennifer E. Smith has a doozy!  A boy from England is going on a cross-country trip of America but all his reservations are in the name of his ex-girlfriend.  What can he do?  He must find a person with the exact same name willing to take the trip with him.  Silly premise aside, I found this book to be very sweet and romantic.  I loved the characters, and their families, and the many ruminations on Love.  This was a fun book.

What I Liked:
Setting:
I love books about long trips, as travel can bring out the best, and worst, in people.  A cross-country train trip was a perfect way for the characters to get to know each other, and interact with many different people and places.

Narrators:
Anthony Mark Barrow & Karissa Vacker do a wonderful job inhabiting all the characters.  I enjoyed the cute British accent that the male narrator brought to the mix, as well as his American accent.  It was done well enough that I couldn't tell if Anthony Mark Barrow was actually British or American.  Karissa Vacker also does a good job of portraying May.  This character could easily come off as annoying, but May seems like a very smart, but lonely, kid. 

Characters:
I enjoyed Hugo and his five siblings.  He is one in a group of sextuplets, and is finding it hard to be his own person.  This is especially hard when everyone around them wants to use them for advertising.  He even has a scholarship to go to college, but only if all his siblings go to the same school.

I liked that while he wanted some space from his sibs, he also had great affection for them.  The group chats in the book were a smart way to show the back and forth that goes on between teens.  It's also smart because group chats are THE WAY teens talk with each other.

Hugo, himself, was very sweet and romantic.   I liked that he didn't want to jeopardize his siblings scholarship.  In that, he was a very selfless character.  He also was very cute with May.  I could totally understand why she would fall for him.

May also is a fun character.  She is devastated not to get into the college program of her dreams and can't understand why.  As the parent of a Senior in high school, I get how difficult rejections from colleges can be.  Often, there is no rhyme or reason to it.  But I like that May tries to improve her film-making skills, rather than blame the admissions committee.

Ending:
I liked that there was not a tidy ending to this book.  As silly as the premise was, the author kept the ending pretty realistic.  It also didn't provide all the answers (could there be a book two in the works?).  I think the transition between high school and college is an unpredictable moment in a teen's life.  It's a moment when our dreams meet real life.  Some of our dreams do come true, but parts of it may look different from what we imagined.  This is what I liked about the ending, and message, of this book.


What I Was Mixed About:
Premise:
This premise, that Hugo must find a girl with the same name as his ex in order to take this trip, is ridiculous.  I also found some of the plot twists about his college scholarship to be contrived.  Every teen wants a different college experience.  Why would all of his siblings be okay with having to attend the same college, even if it was free?  What if the school didn't offer the programs that they wanted?  Why would his parents agree to this?


Rating: 



Release Date:  March 5th, 2019

Genre:  YA Contemporary

Author:  Jennifer E. Smith

Audio Publisher:  Listening Library

Audio Length:  8 hours, 23 minutes
  
Narrators:  Anthony Mark Barrow & Karissa Vacker 

Print Publisher:  Delacorte Press

Page Length:  271 Pages

Source:  Publisher

Format:  Audiobook

Recommendation: If you can get past all of the silliness of the premise, I think you will enjoy this very fun book.
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