Jennifer E. Smith takes us on a journey across the States in “Field Notes on Love”
Hugo wants to get away from his siblings before they go all together to the same university. He wants to embark on a journey from the east coast to the west coast of America, via train. But first, he needs to find a girl with the exact name of his ex-girlfriend. The non-refundable ticket was under her name and he could not go without it. Enter Margaret Campbell, an aspiring filmmaker who was willing to go on a tour with this complete stranger.
“He was alone in a foreign country…there wasn’t a single soul who knew where he was at this exact moment. He was completely and entirely free.”
In “Field Notes on Love,” Jennifer E. Smith evoked the emotions you get when traveling. As a traveler myself, I felt the words of Hugo and Margaret. It’s authentic and real. I appreciate how they make Hugo likable from the get-go. The accent alone will have readers warming up to him (yep, he’s British). Margaret is kind of hard to figure out at first, but the slow reveal of her character is one of the highlights of this book. The stories of both characters were balanced, neither outshining the other, which is a good thing.
Hugo’s having a large family is interesting and suited well to his desire to be independent, to be alone. Margaret’s is a bit complicated and unclear. She’s someone who does not believe in love. But on her background story, Smith failed to make it convincing to the readers.
I enjoyed the book not because it brings the readers to many places, but on the feeling of traveling it evoked on every page. “It’s mind-boggling, isn’t it? To be so far away from your real life. To see so many entirely new things.” I’m not a fan of traveling via small trains, but the scenes make me want to pack my bag and go on a journey.
“He considers this a moment. “So you’re taking field notes.”
“I mean, it’s not super scientific or anything, but…yeah. I guess I am.”
“Field notes on love,” Hugo says, glancing out the window, where the world is moving by too fast.
Mae nods. “And trains.”
(Mortal Worthy. 3 out of 5 stars). “Field Notes on Love” is a story about traveling and the lessons we learn along the way. The premise of the story is so unreal it’s hard to take this book seriously. The scenes (people on the bus lining up to get interviewed about love for example) will remind readers that this is still a YA book, full of fairy tale wishes. But there’s good stuff in this book, and it’s enjoyable to read. For me, that’s what counts.
“You want to travel.”
“I want to escape. That’s not the same.”
Mae shrugs. “It looks the same in the end.”
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