Book Review: Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith

Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publish Date: March 5, 2019
Print Length: 271

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Official Synopsis

Two teens are thrown together on a cross-country train trip that will teach them about love, each other, and the futures they can build for themselves in this meet-cute romance from the bestselling author of Windfall and The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight.

It’s the perfect idea for a romantic week together: traveling across America by train.

But then Hugo’s girlfriend dumps him. Her parting gift: the tickets for their long-planned last-hurrah-before-college trip. Only, it’s been booked under her name. Nontransferable, no exceptions.

Mae is still reeling from being rejected from USC’s film school. When she stumbles across Hugo’s ad for a replacement Margaret Campbell (her full name!), she’s certain it’s exactly the adventure she needs to shake off her disappointment and jump-start her next film.

A cross-country train trip with a complete stranger might not seem like the best idea. But to Mae and Hugo, both eager to escape their regular lives, it makes perfect sense. What starts as a convenient arrangement soon turns into something more. But when life outside the train catches up to them, can they find a way to keep their feelings for each other from getting derailed?

My Review

I kept seeing The Love Hypothesis floating around. As a woman in STEM, I’m curious about the hype, but know I probably won’t have access to it from my library for a while. Then this book magically crossed my timeline and I thought, “I’m up for a genre change. The cover looks cute. The title sounds science-y. Let’s go for it!” Admittedly I don’t think I’ve ever, at least not that I can remember, read a non-fantasy romance. So I stepped out of my comfort zone here, and I’m glad I did.

This book is actually pretty cute. But, more than that, it’s about searching for your passion, if you don’t know what it is. It’s also about letting go, taking risks, and trusting that love is all that it’s cracked up to be. It doesn’t really have anything to do with the science field, but that’s ok; field notes apply to many subject matters, namely film studies in this book.

Another theme of this book is finding your identity outside of your family’s expectations and opening lines of communication. If you don’t communicate how you feel, how can your family’s well-meaning expectations ever shift? How can you know that there’s more than one way to approach a crux in life?

Jennifer E. Smith’s writing style is light and effortless. Yet, it also conveys the complexities of emotions faced by 18-year-olds, whether they’re related to college, adventure away from family, or love of all sorts. Though homophobia and racism are not themes that span the entire book, Mae and Hugo each reflect on their encounters with these unappreciated behaviors.

Overall, I’m glad I tried out a different genre than I normally read. I admit I teared up near the end of the book after a particular event. I’m not sold on the whole non-fantasy romance genre yet, but I’m game to read some more.

Rating: 3.5/5
Content warnings: mention of family member death, mention of racism, mention of homophobia
Reading format: Library hardback

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