Field Notes on Love is a sweet and light young adult rom-com and self-discovery story with a rather cute and sentimental flavor into it.
This is something that I’d definitely pick on a random trip to a bookstore just by the cover alone and even without knowing the plot. And to be honest? I actually went blind into joining the blog tour — I never read the synopsis even when I was signing up. All I know is the title, the cute cover, and the author. Well, this is normal for me because I love surprises on books but I also have a rather positive history with Jennifer E. Smith’s work, so I was hopeful for Field Notes on Love.
Do you love to travel?
I heard that one of Jennifer’s best work is The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight (and I haven’t read this yet!) and that book is about travels. Well, guess what?
Yup! Field Notes on Love involves traveling. It’s about two complete strangers who were arranged to take a week-long train trip across the United States with a purpose of hopefully discovering things around them and most especially about themselves.
It’s a dual POV between Hugo, a British sextuplet who has just broken up with his girlfriend — and Mae, an upcoming freshman college student who got rejected on her dream filmmaking major. Hugo’s ex-girlfriend, Margaret Campbell, have arranged a cross-country train trip across United States long before their breakup. When the two of them broke up, Hugo still wants to go the trip so as to not waste the tickets and to potentially move on from the breakup as well. But the thing is, all tickets and hotel reservations are under Margaret’s name, and are nontransferable and nonrefundable.
With the help of his siblings, Hugo decided to look for someone who has the same name as his ex-girlfriend in order to still avail the trip. The Margaret Campbell 2.0 only need to confirm the identity, she gets a free trip, and they can have their own spaces. With the pain that still lingers after getting rejected on filmmaking major, Mae (real name Margaret Campbell), thought of grabbing this offer in order to seek some adventure and possibly create more film audition pieces along the way.
Interesting, isn’t it?!
A romantic adventure.
Right from the start, I found the whole thing rather interesting and romantic. I don’t know, but for me, the idea of meeting someone on a train trip sounds adorable. I have a soft spot for a classic and nostalgic setting.
A love formed over a week? WHY THE HELL NOT?! Over the years, I’ve always felt uncertain about “insta-love” and I know that many readers find this concept as pet-peeve. It was either a hit or miss for me before, but as I get older, I’ve realized that insta-love is not entirely fictional. I’ve witnessed it with a relative and I may have read a couple of real-life stories on Quora. Lol! So, when the attraction between Hugo and Mae became apparent, I was all for it!
It speaks volume to me.
Field Notes on Love may come rather simple for some, but there are many aspects of the story that really touched my heart in a different kind of way. It was able to highlight Mae’s passion and artistry and Hugo’s uncertainty about what he wants to do.
Mae have always known what she wants to do, and when she thought she can finally move forward with her dream, what she got is rejection. Hugo have always been a part of a unit. He was in a pack of six since birth and he never got the chance to do his own thing as Hugo alone. And when he finally want to do something on his own, he didn’t know what it is, or that he was having a hard time deciding.
It was until the trip when both of them finally found their own answers.
As an artist myself, who have also experienced rejections over the course of my career, I know how it feels like to lose confidence with my works. When one of Mae’s fathers gave her an advice, it punched me in the gut.
Dude, I felt that!
“Sometimes art isn’t a matter of skill or technique. Sometimes it is about experience.”
Another word of wisdom from Mae’s Pop! I stan him!
One of Mae’s fathers, Pop, was the one who told her to seek for adventure. She had to lie in the process (because whose parents in their right mind would allow their child to go on a train trip with a stranger?) but Mae got the story that she’s never had before.
Mae’s circumstances as an artist is painfully relatable, but there’s this one particular thing about her life that affected me more on a very personal level. A quite similar (but not entirely) part of the story happened to me just recently.
I may have dropped a tear or two.
I don’t think it will affect other readers as much as I was affected, but there’s just really something that tugged in my heart about the part that I was talking about. It was really hard to explain without spoiling the entire thing, so I’ll just leave you curious until you pick the book yourself. Lol!
Overall, Field Notes on Love is a beautiful story. It’s not just about Mae and Hugo, but also about the people they met throughout their train trip. I really appreciate the diversity and the sentimental values that it was able to present.
Did it make me want to go on a trip after reading it? HELL YES! I need me some adventures of my own, I guess.
Disclaimer: I received an eARC from Delacorte Press and Bibliophile Soprano in exchange for an honest review in participation for a blog tour. This doesn’t affect my opinion of the book in this review in any way.
I’d also like to extend my apologies and thanks to Fay of Bibliophile Soprano for posting late than the originally intended date, and for giving me a pass for it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jennifer E. Smith
JENNIFER E. SMITH is the author of eight books for young adults, including Windfall and The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. She earned a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and her work has been translated into thirty-three languages. She currently lives in New York City.
Tour organized by Bibliophile Soprano