Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

 

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    Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist

    by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

  • VOYA: 4P4Q J
  • Lexile Level: 1020L
  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (May 23, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375835318
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375835315

Nick and Norah have never met before, but the two collide on one fateful night at a Manhattan nightclub.  Both are coming off serious breakups, both are trying to avoid more pain, and both are massively obsessed with music.  On this night, the stars have aligned and the two music fiends are on a path to infamy.  It started innocently enough.  Nick’s band has just finished their set and he is trying to avoid his ex, Tris, and her new fling.  As the heartbreaker weaves her way through the crowd to grind her heel even deeper, Nick turns to the flannel-clad girl standing at the bar near him and asks her to pretend to be his girlfriend for a few minutes.  Straightedge Norah is enjoying the music, but is focused on getting her drunk friend Caroline home safely when she spots her sometimes frienemy, Tris, walking her way.  Nick’s request couldn’t come at a better time, so she responds with a deep soulful kiss that sends both of them spinning.  Coming off of a heartbreak of her own, Norah isn’t looking for more than a safe way home for her inebriated friend.  Just when it seems her night couldn’t get any worse, however, her ex appears and everything begins to spiral out of control.  As Nick and Norah wander around Manhattan, pursued by the past, Tris, and the hope of a future, they alternately pull together and push each other way until finally their fates become intertwined.

This is a modern love story.  Readers need not recognize the terrain or even the culture; instead they will respond to the universal experience of heartbreak, vulnerability, and falling in love.  Told in alternating chapters, the voices of Nick and Norah are clear, enticing, and realistic.  They are each fully developed with complex emotions.  The format works especially well because it forces the authors to show, not tell.  The characters come alive because everything is in their voice.  The layers of depth each character contains is amazing.  Music lovers will enjoy this novel on an entirely different level.  Though it risks becoming dated, the authors are not afraid to use classic and new music to  bring added depth.  Ultimately, readers of all ages and genders should find something to enjoy about this novel because at its core, it is a love story.  The use of profanity neither adds to nor detracts from the story.  If anything, the use of profanity works like dialect to demonstrate the age and passions of the narrators.  There are a few sexual moments, but they feel neither gratuitous nor contrived.  Interestingly, both narrators are models of the straightedge lifestyle which prohibits drinking, drugs, and more.  Further, in the end, both teenagers choose to wait despite their mutual attraction.  Both characters are intelligent, funny, and capable, and both have serious options for the future.  Cohn and Levithan have created admirable role models for the modern teen.

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