The Bookshelf, A Teen Review: Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

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Courtney Bowers writes a monthly book review The Bookshelf, A Teen Review. Courtney is a junior at Heritage High School in Blount County. Join Courtney in the book discussion under comments.

By now, most teenagers have seen the movie “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist,” and have fallen in love with the New York City adventure that takes place all within one unforgettable night. The novel, penned in 2006, is even more captivating than the film.

“Nick and Norah” is a story of Nick, a heartbroken Yugo-driving bassist in an unknown punk band, and Norah, a complicated music-lover whose father is a famous music producer. Both teens are struggling with their lives. Nick is unable to move on from his ex-girlfriend, Tris, who cheated on him during their entire six-month relationship. Norah is trying to escape an on-again, off-again relationship with her “sort-of” boyfriend, Tal.

What starts as an innocent kiss to make Tris jealous turns into much more as Nick and Norah discover one another. Both have the same taste in music, and they share an obsession with the fictional band Where’s Fluffy. Both characters are slowly beginning to figure themselves out, and, as they deal with the emotional rollercoaster of being teenagers, they do it together.

What I enjoyed most about the book were the differences between it and the movie. I expected it to be predictable, since I already knew the plot line, but the book allowed me to connect with the characters even more. The chapters alternate between Nick and Norah’s perspectives (written back and forth by the male and female co-authors), which helps readers understand both sides of the story. Unfortunately, more intimate views also mean more inappropriate language. Despite that, the words create a sense of being in the characters’ shoes, and it feels as if you’re really on the streets of New York City.

Another difference is found in one of the best-known scenes in the movie where Norah asks Nick to be her boyfriend for five minutes. In the book, the scene is completely reversed. Nick is the one begging Norah to play along in front of his ex-girlfriend. Tris is portrayed in the movie as being completely shallow. Tris is still cruel and conniving in the book, but her character has a bit more depth than just an average mean girl. Norah’s best friend Caroline, a major character in the film, never gets lost in the novel, and the adventure is not based around finding her. The story is also a bit more romantic, with plenty of great song lyrics and memorable quotes. With all these variations, readers definitely do not have to worry about being bored. If you know the movie story by heart, you’re in for a few surprises. Even with differences, the book still has the same magical feeling of falling in love within the madness of a big city at night. For teens who dream of connecting with someone in a whirlwind romance, this is definitely a book for you. It perfectly portrays how a night of excitement can defy the clock and seem like an infinite moment of bliss.

Have you read “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist?” Discuss your thoughts on the book below.

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