Description Summary | A short but delightful coming of age romance with a colorful cast of characters and a sweet tooth of a romance. It has the lightness found in 2000s rom com teen movies and a dose of classic romance.
Book Summary | (Skip to Review)
Hugo Wilkinson, recently dumped by Margaret Campbell; his girlfriend of 3 years, is in a predicament. Before the split, they were both planning a getaway trip to America where they’d get a train tour from NYC all through the midlands till they reach California before Margaret starts her year at Stanford.
Of course that’s all thrown out…that is when Hugo is encouraged by his brothers Alfie and George to go ahead with it. One last hurrah for little Hugo before he’s off to college. It would help him too since he has no idea what to do with his life.
The catch: All of the reservations are under Margaret’s name, and under no circumstances can the names be transferred or refunded.
With that Hugo writes up an ad looking for a Margaret Campbell. On the other side of the ocean, a Margaret Campbell indeed does respond.
Margaret “Mae” Campbell lives in the outside areas of noisy New York and is an aspiring filmmaker who’s favorite director is Wes Anderson, and is not sure if she even believes in the concept of love. At least what her Nana deems as “love”. The whole fiasco of romance, sparks, and butterflies is completely alien to Mae. However after being rejected for film school, Mae sees this train ticket as a chance for inspiration.
The daydreamer and the realist find themselves side by side for one week, but what starts as a cordial acquaintance turns into something more…something highly familiar to “love”.
“He’s in love with you” he says, looking at her in surprise.
“And you’re in love with him too”
He shakes his head. “I can’t believe it.”
“You ran away and fell in love with a boy on a train”.
The feels people. The utter delight I’m in. Someone in this book described love as pizza; being all warm and gooey. And that is exactly what I feel right now. This book was a short one but I was swept away by it. Not to mention trains is one of my favorite things in the world. Ever since looking at that Hogwarts train as a child, I fell in love with them.
Though the setting mainly takes place on the train, it’s not boring I promise you. The dynamics between our two MCs, Mae and Hugo, make it entertaining and joyous. They have key differences but they work, they just do, and honestly watching their love story blossom was magic.
I loved that the book included coming of age themes apart from just traditionally focusing on the romance part, and the themes included were really applicable to everyone in a different sense. You have self identity issues, finding your voice and having the courage to go after it, how to be independent and still be a part of a family, and the list goes on. Granted it’s not “deep” but still Smith wrote in a way that was inspirational and hopeful, and truthfully I could use some hope during these times.
The writing just flowed. Smith has the ability to drag you within the story and experience whatever the character is experiencing. I loved how the setting wasn’t just physical descriptions; she described the ambiances and different “vibes” of the spaces (even if it’s just within the train itself). I think taking that notion helped elevate the book greatly and was an effective way when handling a mostly one setting situation as with this book.
It’s one of those books where you wish you could have a spin off or a sequel but you know that it just won’t work 🙂 *sigh*
Hugo and Mae are like Patrick and Kat from 10 Things I Hate About You. You’ve got the sunshine and the cynic. If you liked their dynamic then you’ll like Hugo and Mae.
Hugo resonates so much with me. I’ve always been the daydreamer, even as a kid, always stuck up in the clouds, having a wild imagination and always being inquisitive. He’s a wanderer, and maybe somewhat lost; it’s like he knows what he wants but doesn’t exactly know specifically “what”. And I feel that way too, I think a lot of young adults feel that way too.
Can I just say I absolutely love that he’s this soft teddy bear. Yes more soft boys please 😊
Mae is the sharpness to Hugo’s softness. She’s strong headed and determined. I liked how Smith did not write her as this bitchy girl boss, who ends up hurting the nice guys because she can and because well…she’s mean. She’s the bossy with walls around her heart for fear of getting hurt, and I love how that changes when she goes on this adventure and meets Hugo; it’s like seeing her reconnect with herself.
Extra! The O.G. Margaret Campbell
I have to give a shout out to Hugo’s ex. She wasn’t manipulative or toxic. And when Hugo made things clear with her, I loved how she backed off and respected her ex partner’s wishes. We need more positive representation of exes in books, especially involving less crazy ex girlfriends 🙂
Do I recommend? Yes!