Published by Delacorte Press on March 5, 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
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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?
Jennifer E. Smith’s books are always short and sweet, and right up my alley. Except I kinda didn’t really like Field Notes on Love very much. Which is a big deal because I am Jennifer E. Smith trash.
Field Notes on Love had a really great concept and definitely inspired a wanderlust in me. It follows Hugo, from Surrey, England, and Mae from New York. Hugo is a sextuplet and is semi-famous in his hometown for this reason. He’s always been surrounded by his siblings, and though he loves them all to death and definitely doesn’t mind spending all of his time around them, he’s never been able to explore who he is as an individual. When his girlfriend, Margaret Campbell, breaks up with him, he decides to go on their planned train trip across America on his own and it becomes his journey of self-discovery. Except… all of the tickets are booked under Margaret’s name and are non-transferrable, which leaves Hugo no choice but to recruit another Margaret Campbell through the internet to take him on this trip. Which is where Mae comes in. Mae is on her own journey of self-discovery following her rejection from USC’s famous film school. She decides to go on this trip to build up her life experiences in order to create better films. And of course the two fall in love.
My main problem with this book was the insta-love. I mean, we all knew it was going to happen but it kind of happened so quickly that it ruined the rest of the book for me. On top of that, I don’t think that Hugo and Mae really had any chemistry so it all came across as cheesy and insta-lovey. I wish that the book was another 100-200 pages longer so that we could get some more development of this relationship because I just didn’t really believe in it. It’s honestly a big upsetting because there was so much potential in this book.
On a similar note, I never really warmed to Hugo and Mae as much as I would’ve liked. I connected with Hugo a bit more because there was slightly more backstory and I found the whole sextuplet thing to be really interesting. However, there just wasn’t enough page time for me to really connect with the characters and I found the character development to be lacking. Hugo goes from an 18 year old boy who just wants to get a taste of a life experience without his siblings, to the next day suddenly discovering that what he wants in life is to take a gap year and being away from his family for a whole year. While I understand that the book is set over a 7 day period, I just felt completely disengaged with the story because of how quickly things were developing.
I did think that the writing was beautiful and there were some really lovely and heartwarming messages in the book (I wouldn’t expect anything less from Jennifer E. Smith). I loved the travel aspect of it and would’ve liked to have seen that featured a bit more heavily in the book. I also loved the concept of the book and the documentary that Mae was making on the train. There were many individual aspects that I liked and thought had great potential but, unfortunately, it never really hit the heights for me because these individual aspects were never integrated into something magical.
I was disappointed with Field Notes on Love. While it was an extremely quick read that only took me about 2 hours to get through, I found it to be lacking in character and plot development. If this novel had been 100 pages longer, I think I would’ve absolutely fallen in love with it.
Rating: 3 out of 5
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