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

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Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn ISBN: 9780375835339

Plot Summary: How much can change in 24 hours? When Nick asks Norah to be his girlfriend for five minutes, he has no idea that he will end up spending the rest of the night with her, from underground concert to smorgasbord at a Russian restaurant, from hiding in an ice room of a hotel, to getting over hang ups about past relationships.  This is a fun, fast paced story that will have you laughing at Nick and Norah’s banter, looking up all the music they talk about and shaking your head at the crazy things they do.

Critical Evaluation:  This was an enjoyable and well written read, but there isn’t much to the story beyond that. I should clarify that I don’t think is necessarily a bad thing. It doesn’t necessarily try to end with a lesson for the reader, beyond maybe taking a chance. I think the literary elements most focused on were character development and setting. Chapters flip back and forth from Nick and Norah’s perspective, which allows us to see into their thought process and get a good idea of how each is feeling throughout the night. The supporting characters are not focused on, but all seem to have several sides or layers to their personality. In the movie, Nick’s ex-girlfriend is much more conniving, almost villainous, but in the book, though she has broken Nick’s heart, she isn’t out to keep toying with him. In fact, she helps his relationship with Norah.

The setting is New York and this plays a very important role in the story. I get a very clear picture of the different areas of New York that Nick and Norah visit, from the sort of dingy Russian restaurant, to the quiet and sanitized (at least at night) business area. I can relate to the teen experience of traveling around a city at night, and from the little I know about New York and New Jersey, liked details about making sure you have enough money to pay the tolls to get across the bridge.

Reader’s Annotation:  What can you do in New York City in 24 hours? For Nick and Norah, the better question is: what can’t you do?

Information about the authors: Both David Levithan and Rachel Cohn have published many YA novels, and this is not their only collaboration. David Levithan was born in 1972, and graduated from Brown University in 1994. His first book was published in 2003. He is also an editor, and has won awards for several of his books.

Rachel Cohn was born in Silver Spring, Maryland in 1968. She grew up in the Washington D.C. area, and graduated from Barnard with a degree in political science. She now lives in New York City. She credits her decision to write on her favorite childhood authors, Judy Blume, E.L. Konisburg, and Ellen Conford.

Genre: Realistic Fiction, Romance

Curriculum ties, if any: None.

Booktalking Ideas: This is another title that would lend itself to talking about music, and potentially incorporating particular songs mentioned into the booktalk.  I would definitely mention the movie that was made of it, though the book and movie are slightly different. And this is one that switches narrative between Nick and Norah, so it’s one that, like Eleanor and Park, has humor and appeal for both genders.

Reading Level/Interest Age:  Nick and Norah are both high school seniors. There is some strong language and quite a few sexual situations, so this book will be best for older teens. Publisher’s Weekly recommends it for ages 14 and up, Booklist for grades 10-12, and School Library Journal for grades 9 and up.

Challenge Issues:

  • language
  • several sexual scenes
  • blunt discussions of sex and homosexuality

Defense Strategy:

  1. First, I would want to be familiar with book. As I’ve read this book, I’d be aware of potential issues that could be challenged. In the case of a book I had not read, I would want to have access to reviews.
  2. Then I would put together a rationale for why this book is included in the collection. This rationale would include:
    • Bibliographic Citation of the book.
    • A description of who the book is best suited for.
    • A summary of the book and applicable other information, such as biographical information about the author.
    • My justification for including the book. This would include how it fits in with the selection policy and library mission statement, and include its educational significance if applicable or the impact it could have on readers.
    • Copy of selection policy and library mission statement at my library.
    • ALA Library Bill of Rights
    • Good and bad reviews of the book
    • Alternative works a student could read
    • Reconsideration form if patron is not satisfied with rationale
  3. When talking to patron, I would listen to their concerns without getting on the defensive and attempt to sympathize with their concerns. In some cases, all an upset patron needs is to be able to vent and know that someone is listening to them.
  4. If needed, I would send the challenge up the chain of command.

As noted in Dr. Brodart’s “Radical Reads 2,” Nick and Norah almost have sex, but decide to take things slower, validating the idea that it isn’t a good idea to rush into something serious too quickly. I would also argue that this book meets the recreational needs of patrons, and represents different lifestyles that teens should be aware of.

Why did you include this book?: I saw the movie and thought this would be a fun, short read that might have broad appeal, especially for a book that deals so heavily with relationships.

Reference Page:

Brodart, J.R. (2010). Radical reads 2: Working with the newest edgy titles for teens. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press.

Levithan, D. (2013). About Me. Retrieved from http://www.davidlevithan.com/about/

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  1. Pingback: Alphabetical List of Titles | let's talk about that book...

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