Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist

Book: Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. New York, NY: Random House, 2006.

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Audience: Age 15 and Up

Read Aloud: aaaaaaaaaaaaand go

Summary: Nick O’Leary is the only non-queer member of a queercore band currently calling itself The Fuck Offs. Norah Silverberg is the daughter of a high-powered music executive who has lost her direction in life. The two meet when Nick spots his ex, Tris, at the bar where The Fuck Offs are doing a show and decides to avoid an awkward and lonely confrontation by asking Norah to be his girlfriend for five minutes. This begins the epic journey of Nick and Norah which consists of a lot of running around New York City and falling head over heels; talking about music and life and everything in between.The two finally decide to head home after the sun has come up and dive headfirst into their newfound romance.

Themes: One of the main themes is relationships: old ones, new ones, friendships, and romances. What do you do when you can’t stop thinking about an ex? What do you do when your boyfriend is getting too serious too quickly? What do you do when you meet a really hot guy at a bar? What do you do when your best friend is drunk and it’s your responsibility to get her home safely? What do you do when some guy asks you to be his girlfriend for five minutes? All of these are questions that come up throughout the course of the novel. Nick and Norah are each dealing with catastrophic exes, the joys and horrors of friendship and the terrors and thrills of new romances.

Another theme is music and the importance it plays in the young adult experience. A lot of the novel revolves around mixed CDs that Nick made for Tris when they were together, as well as songs that he has written and writes throughout the book. Norah appreciates all of Nick’s mixes and songs, but Nick doesn’t know it. Similarly, the popular quote about The Beatles’ hit “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” comes from this novel. Nick and Norah discuss their tastes in music and how much it means to them.

Connections: This book is set up just like Will Grayson, Will Grayson. The chapters alternate between Nick narrating and Norah narrating. The two perspectives are very different and the characters are incredibly endearing and funny and romantic, just like the two Wills in Will Grayson, Will Grayson.

Reactions: I loved this book. And for those of you who’ve seen the movie, the book is so much better. The characters are wonderfully well-written and the language is classic and hilarious and original. The plot is entertaining and there’s never a dull moment. The dueling perspectives are never disappointing and I found myself rooting for Nick and Norah the whole way through, falling in love and hating their exes just as they were.

Reception:  Brian Farrey, a reviewer for teenreads.com, says the book is compelling and enjoyable.

“NICK & NORAH’S INFINITE PLAYLIST lays down a beat that drives you from cover to cover and invites you to pay attention to the soundtrack that envelops your own life: it’s the best way to tell who’s there to sing back-up and who’s up for a duet.”

I agree with Brian. I thought the book was sensational and moving.

Kate Pavao, a reviewer for Common Sense Media, says the book contains quite a bit of swearing and sexuality.

“Parents need to know that there is constant swearing, including the f-word, the b-word, and some pretty creative combinations. Nick and Norah order virgin cocktails, but Norah’s best friend is always drunk, and there are other references to drugs like marijuana and Ecstasy. The characters also mention Krispy Kremes, Oreos, McDonald’s, Chuck Taylors, Xbox, and more. There is some pretty passionate kissing and groping between straight and gay characters, plus talk of other sexual experiences. In the end, this is a story about teens who are able to get past their past hurts and trust the instant connection that just may be true love.”

I agree that the language is an issue, but the sexuality isn’t too much and the book is just too good to pass up.

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About ElleBelleYAL

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2 Responses to Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist

  1. Ellie, you mention that the book is so much better than the movie. Can you think of a specific section of the book that should have made the movie “cut” but didn’t or something that the book really highlighted that the movie downplayed?

    • ElleBelleYAL says:

      The characters in the book are more outspoken and outgoing in the book than in the movie. Also, the way the characters are introduced in the movie (i.e. Norah asking Nick to be her boyfriend for five minutes) is actually reversed in the book (Nick asks Norah), which makes much more sense. The minor characters (Dev, Thom, Caroline, etc) don’t have much of a role at all in the book, but their roles are seriously increased in the movie, which takes away from what’s going on between Nick and Norah. Conversely, Nick’s ex-girlfriend, Tris, is portrayed in the movie as an immature, ungrateful little princess. However, in the book she has way more dimension and is much more likable. There’s a sequence of two chapters in the book that begin with a scene between Norah and Tris eating cookies in the aisle of a 24hr market where they talk about Nick, followed by a scene between Nick and Tris where they talk about Norah. I wish that section of the book had been included in the movie, but it would have made Tris out to be someone different than they intended.

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