Let me be the first to say that I am a complete sucker for the teen romance. I love the goofy kisses, the awkward flirting, the funny jokes and steamy first encounters. But I would almost hesitate to put the young adult novel Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist on that list. Why, because it’s just too damn good to be limited by any category.
I loved this book. From the first moment on, every single sentence was a new feeling, a new adventure. And yet, by embarking on a wildly awesome unforgettable night, authors Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have managed to capture almost all the raw emotions that come with finding first love, or, to put it better, first love after first breakup.
I loved this book in particular not only for its witty humor and charm, but for its handle on the issue of love. In the middle of the book, Nick’s gay friend and band mate Dev tells him,
“Other bands, it’s about sex. Or pain. Or some fantasy. But The Beatles, they knew what they were doing. You know the reason The Beatles made it so big? ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand.’ First single. fucking brilliant. Perhaps the most fucking brilliant song ever written. Because they nailed it. That’s what everyone wants. Not 24-7 hot wet sex. Not a marriage that lasts a hundred years. Not a Porsche or a blowjob or a million-dollar crib. No. They wanna hold your hand. They have such a feeling that they can’t hide. Ever single successful love story has those unbearable and unbearably exciting moments of hand-holding.”
I love that. Because sometimes, as good as sex or money or fame and adventure can be, we all have those moments when all we want is a hand to hold; for someone to want to just be with us. There’s no pressure, no bills to pay, no weight to lose or goal to make, there’s just someone wanting to hold our hand, to just be there, to appreciate who we are, right now. And that’s beautiful, isn’t it? Beyond all the things that make us complicated or make us stressed or make us rush from here and there in an infinite frenzy to live what we think is a happy life, sometimes we just have to understand that sometimes there are no problems, that the only problem we really truly have is that we’ve forgotten what it’s like to hold hands with someone. That’s something I truly appreciate seeing; it’s not the guy walking around town with his hand on some hot girl’s ass, nor is it the girl strutting her stuff with the man who just won a full ride to Yale. It’s the guy walking down the street in his faded shirt and ratty pants, holding the hand of the girl who always nags him to throw his jeans out, but would be secretly crushed if she did. It’s the girl who always writes letters to her boyfriend in class when she’s bored. It’s the guy who always tells his girlfriend she’s beautiful, but he doesn’t have to use words at all.
I love this book because it’s centered in that simple truth: that no matter how crazy things can get or how frustrating people can be, there’s always something worth trying, and it’s always worth taking that leap. It’s worth doing the silly things like kissing a guy on impulse because he asked you to be his girlfriend for five minutes. It’s making ridiculous mix CD’s for your first boyfriend. It’s even remembering with fondness that first “special song” you had with that certain someone. Sometimes it’s not the wild night or the special romantic dinner or the tickets you scored to that killer concert, it’s the simple act of reaching out and knowing that there’s someone who will always hold your hand.