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

Nick and NorahReading level: 7.1
Lexile: 1020
Genre: Romance
ELL-Friendly: Not particularly
Library recommendation: high school

Scholastic’s summary:

It all starts when Nick asks Norah to be his girlfriend for five minutes. He only needs five minutes to avoid his ex-girlfriend, who’ s just walked in to his band’ s show. With a new guy. And then, with one kiss, Nick and Norah are off on an adventure set against the backdrop of New York City— and smack in the middle of all the joy, anxiety, confusion, and excitement of a first date.

This he said/she said romance is a sexy, funny roller coaster of a story about one date over one very long night, with two teenagers, both recovering from broken hearts, who are just trying to figure out who they want to be— and where the next great band is playing.

I’ve been meaning to read Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist for a few years, beginning when I discovered the amazing David Levithan. I had really high hopes but was left fairly disappointed. But, like I said with Let It Snow, teen romance isn’t really my thing, but it might be your thing, so take my opinions with a grain of salt.

The story is told through alternating viewpoints, which is pulled off beautifully with the audiobook I listened to. The narration is excellent. Another plus is that the voices of these two teenagers are incredibly realistic. Nick and Norah are heartbroken, not heartbroken, confused, heartbroken again, scared, adventurous, confused some more… Now that I am not a teenager and do not wish to relive that experience ever again, I wasn’t super intrigued by these characters. Because there isn’t a whole lot of action and most of the story is the inner thoughts of each character, the teenage introspection got to be a bit much. That said, the ultimate message is to take a leap of faith because life is scary, but you can’t live scared. But also don’t be stupid, but if you are (because you will make stupid decisions), learn from them and grow.

I will regretfully not be putting this book in my classroom library unless I maybe teach high school. This book has the most f-bombs (among other choice swear words) than any other book I can recall. And there’s some sort-of-sex scenes, which isn’t super graphic but is enough to potentially make parents uncomfortable/outraged. But, like I said, all this can be justified by the very teenage-ness of the whole book, and teenagers need books they can connect to. However, because of the excessive language and “adult content,” I would but a “rated R” sticker on it if it goes into the classroom at all. It might also wind up being one of those books that I reserve for a certain student who I feel would “get” it – maybe a reluctant teen reader with a broken heart.

It’s not particularly ELL-friendly because of the high lexile, a pretty sophisticated vocab, and references to pop culture and music. I can’t help but think that if readers know the major American curse words, they’re halfway to understanding all the words in the story. But I exaggerate…

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