Review: The Vast Fields of Ordinary – Nick Burd

The Vast Fields of OrdinarySynopsis 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.





First up, I’ve got to say how much I love this cover. Amazon, with its handy recommendations, told me I should buy this one after I purchased both What They Always Tell Us and Sprout. I’d never heard of either the book or the author before (it seems I’m the only one because the cover is full of glowing reviews from Kirkus, New York Times, Vanity Fair etcetera etcetera…) and well, it’ll be a sunny day in Manchester when I don’t read a book with a cover like this one.

I mean, isn’t it fantastic? It really reminded me of Joe Dempsie in Skins and I actually had to double check that it wasn’t him. So when I’d finished warbling to Hometown Glory and put down my tear sodden tissues (Fuck it), I bought it.

[Another wonderful thing: The cover is actually relevant to the story! Well, if you swap the fleecy mint sheets for a yellow lilo…yes, that’s right, A YELLOW LILO.]

My favourite part of this book, besides Alex Kincaid, was how the sexuality storyline seemed so incidental as opposed to the only thing the story is about. It was subtle and it made the characters all the more realistic because of it. Even though technically it’s a coming out story, to me it’s more of a coming of age story about a guy on the cusp of adulthood, just finished high school and faced with three months of sunshine-sodden limbo until he has to deal with Real Life.

Or well, as Real as college/uni can get..

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, this is what brilliant YA books have that other books (or bad YA books) don’t have: the ability to capture the complicated feelings of being too old to be treated as a kid and being too young to be taken seriously as an adult.
And it’s as Dade stumbles through this period where high school has finished and college hasn’t begun that Mr Burd captures so perfectly.

Dade’s an ace character and it was brilliant to read his journey or, um, stumble through this period where high school has finished and college hasn’t begun. In the middle of a whirlwind of family, school, old friends, new friends (Lucy, you gorgeous girl), old lovers, new lovers, adventures, parties, secrets, enemies is Dade and he’s trying to make sense of it all.

And then there’s Alex Kincaid, with his bags of weed and sleeveless hoodies and shaved head…. *girly sigh* I loved, loved, loved Alex and I also fancied the pants off him. I know, I know, considering he’s the love interest in a story about a gay guy… chances are I’m going to be left disappointed.

Though, let’s face it, it’s a given that I’m going to end up with a guy like Dingo and his stoned guitar strumming and his concept album of the toys of his youth.

ANYWAY, whenever Alex and Dade were on the page, I had such a dopey smile on my face. It was all late night walks, and all night parties, and holding hands, and kissing on the bonnet of cars and Tacos. And it was so great because there was no unnecessary angst and there was no instant falling in love because of their soul or whatever. It was how it is and how it should be and it was brilliant.

And Dade also says this about him: “Something about his smoldering gaze made him look like one of the mechanics in Lube Jobs 4”.
I admit it, I barked like a seal at that one.

Paired with a lots of gorgeous scenes full of stunning writing between the two boys (and actually, one of my favourite scenes is between Dade’s best friend, Lucy, and him… the writing. Gah!), there are some extremely poignant moments- especially towards the end with Dade and Pablo and Dade’s parents.

And then the actual end. Well. I’m annoyed with myself because I somehow managed to ruin the main event for myself (OK, I was painting my nails and the book fell off my knee so I grabbed it and the page fell open and my eyes zoned in on two words that pretty much sum up the whole of the climax. RAGE) but, surprisingly, it didn’t dampen the feel of the book or take anything away.

As I got to that bit even though I knew it was coming, I found myself with watery eyes that had nothing to do with the fluffy dandelion wishes that are EVERYWHERE at the moment. And the last paragraph is possibly one of the most gorgeous last paragraphs of a book I’ve read, especially the last sentence. So beautiful.

I loved this book, full of love and awkwardness and hilarious one-liners (still laughing about the Lube Jobs 4, I won’t lie). I absolutely cannot wait to see what other stories are swirling around Mr Burd’s head because after this book he’s definitely earned a place in the USYA VIP Boy’s Club (that I’ve made up, they’re not a real gang, unfortunately) and can comfortably hobnob with authors such as Andrew Smith, Matthew Wilson and Dale Peck.

Seriously, you need to get involved with Dade’s story.

5 thoughts on “Review: The Vast Fields of Ordinary – Nick Burd

  1. I went to add this on Goodreads and realised it’s been on my list for a while but your review has reminded me and now I want to read this desperately.

    I too love the cover and that this is about two guys, just being themselves, and not just about their sexuality.

  2. Fuck it for Chris!

    Sorry, I couldn’t not….

    I completely forgot about this one but I remember you showing me the cover, and now I’m thinking how on earth could I forget it? Stupid brain. Anyway, want to read it, like, yesterday.

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