The Vast Fields of Ordinary by Nick Burd

Book cover of The Vast Field of OrdinaryThe Vast Fields of Ordinary
by Nick Burd
Published on: May 1st, 2009

From Goodreads:

It’s Dade’s last summer at home, and things are pretty hopeless. He has a crappy job, a “boyfriend” who treats him like dirt, and his parents’ marriage is falling apart. So when he meets and falls in love with the mysterious Alex Kincaid, Dade feels like he’s finally experiencing true happiness. But when a tragedy shatters the final days of summer, he realizes he must face his future and learn how to move forward from his past.

My thoughts:

I read this book a year back. Yup. Long, long time. But just couldn’t get around to talking about it because I tend to lose my coherence when I end up liking something (which, I understand, is a terrible thing to admit on a book blog but whattodo!).

This book is one of my brother’s favourites (the kind that he re-read so much that he actually lost count of how many times he has read it) and he gave it to me at this time last year when I had no idea what I was doing with my life and made the impulsive decision to shift from Calcutta to New Delhi again.

Anyway. I moved to ND almost empty-handed (in terms of books, really) save for this. And thank god for that. What an ache-y, sensitive, beautiful book this was.

I believe the true test of a book lies in holding your attention and making you feel, really feel, when you’ve shut yourself from the rest of the world and kind of hit rock bottom. Everything stops mattering at this point. And if a book ends up mattering, well, you can guess how good a book that must be,

This is an extremely well-written book, exploring that time between high school and college when everything around you is changing and you are not quite sure if you want it to or maybe you’re just torn between wanting it to and not wanting it to. Dade is at that point, wanting to leave high school and his town behind but not quite sure how to, especially when he falls in love with the strangely alluring Alex Kincaid (fictional crush alert, yup). This is a book about relationships, complicated relationships – between divorcing parents, between parents and children with secret lives, between lovers and ex lovers, and it’s all very sensitively handled. It’s a book with a big heart and it’s essentially a bite of a-few-days-in-the-life-of-a-gay-teenager. And it’s done beautifully. And that makes all the difference.

I don’t know if Nick Burd has written any more books. I haven’t come across any more but I wish he does, because I would read it. He is immensely talented. It takes a deft hand to make the everyday so beautiful and significant.

Lola and the Boy Next Door

(Yes, the whole world’s probably read it by now, but GAHH I’m going to talk about it anyway, because, hey, Stephanie Perkins. Enough said.)

Lola and the Boy Next Door
by Stephanie Perkins
Release date: September 28th, ’11
From Goodreads:

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion…she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit–more sparkly, more fun, more wild–the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.
When Cricket–a gifted inventor–steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

A word about the cover: I love the wig. And the cover in general coveys the same cheeriness that Anna‘s cover does, although the latter had a mysteriousness about it since you couldn’t see the guy’s face on it and hey, we had a good time imagining Etienne, didn’t we? But Lola has a new cover, too (like all the books in this series) – more city-centric – and I think it’s gorgeous. Also, mature.

My thoughts:

This book is a big glob of happiness. I mean, there are a lot of sad and not-so-kind and heartbreaking stuff, too, but overall, it’s such a happy book it makes you feel hopeful about things, irrespective of how you’re feeling.

It’s been a few hours since I finished reading this book and I still can’t stop grinning about it. Stephanie Perkins knows, you know. She REALLY knows how to write a good, believable romance. She knows how to build up a believable friendship-that-is-more-than-just-friendship and turn it on its head so that even though you kind of know that in spite of everything this will end up with a happy ending, you can’t discard the book with a smirk because the characters are sitting there with your heart and you’re squealing and gahh-ing over whatever’s happening and you know you need this.

Yes, that’s what a Stephanie Perkins book feels like. And that’s what Lola and the Boy Next Door feels like, too.

I’ve heard a lot of people didn’t really like Lola’s dangling-two-boys act but c’mon, she’s only human and nobody’s perfect. Oh, well, Cricket is. Like reallyreallyreally perfect. Dude, where do guys like him live? (Okay, okay, I know San Francisco and all that, but really) Remember Etienne from Anna ? Yeah, that guy is puurrrfect, but Cricket is sometimes (most times, actually) waaaay too good to be true.

Other things I liked about Lola:
– Lola’s dads! I haven’t read a better, matter-of-fact, un-caricatured representation of a gay couple with a daughter. And Andy and Nathan stand out so well against each other.
– Norah. (I’m not saying who she is if you haven’t read the book – although chances are that you have, still – but I thought she was the most interesting character in the book)
– An obsessive-compulsive costume designer. An Olympic-bound figure skater. An inventor. Aahh, unique hobbies make for such unique characters.
– Also, the thing about Alexander Graham Bell. I liked that bit of inclusion.
– I loved the little unconventional bits the book had. Like Lola’s 5-years-older boyfriend. The biological/adopted family thingy. Heck, the costumes! Less high school, more home scenes (hey, the boy’s just next door – who would even *want* school?) – infact, more COLLEGE (here’s looking at you Berkeley) than high school.
– But my favourite part? ANNA AND ST. CLAIR MAKE APPEARANCES THROUGHOUT THE BOOK.

Okay, so Anna is still one of my favouritebooksEVER. It’s one of the most glorious books written in YA fiction and bringing Lola up for a comparison would just not be fair because Anna is, you know, Anna. Boarding school. Paris. St Clair. Perfection.

But Lola IS a good read. More than good, it’s a happy read and we can all do with a heavy dose of happiness, can’t we? This book had been on my to-read list for a very long time but I’m overjoyed I finally could get around to reading it because the reading experience has been worth more than I had expected. I’m convinced now. Stephanie Perkins has the gift of writing happy. You know that when you’re feeling the blues, all you need is to pick up a Perkins book. Works like magic.

Do you like Anna or Lola better?