This book has all the feelings. It’s strange, because while on one hand I know you are supposed to feel sad at the end, another part of me wonders why I am. I suppose it’s a testament to David Nicholl’s skill that I feel so conflicted. First love is a very weird thing, and this book captures the dichotomy of heartbreak and elation, tragedy and romance that accompanies that. As the story is perfectly paired with a production of Romeo and Juliet, the reader understands these even more intensely.
Our story revolves around Charlie, who just finished school and is aimlessly contemplating his summer when he stumbles across the Fathom Five Theatre Co-Operative. He is immediately intrigued by Fran, a lovely, intelligent young lady who encourages him to join up. Despite himself he does, though it is in large part to avoid his clinically depressed father and passively neglectful mother. As the summer unfolds, so does the story, with Nicholls masterfully weaving Charlie’s history with the ongoing play production, and dropping tidbits of Charlie’s future life and impending wedding. In a way, the author is setting the stage for the ending, but that doesn’t soften the blows.
I read a previous book by the author, One Day, later made into a movie with Anne Hathaway. I remember feeling so much after, but it was nearly 8 years ago now, so I worried that this book wouldn’t have the same effect. I should have trusted the author, and I highly recommend this to fans of Nicholls, and anyone who loves a great coming of age novel.