Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholls

I have been searching long and hard for a good summer read before school starts. The novel Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholls fulfilled that way beyond my expectations. A coming-of-age story sporting a tragicomedy shows readers the arduous journey into adulthood and the fiery fireworks of first love. This fairly new read uses Shakespeare to question readers to ask peculiar questions to challenge ourselves. The novel’s main character, Charlie Lewis, is a 16-year-old teenage boy with rough family life. His parents are divorced, which forces him and his sister to bounce between households. Charlie is dealt the rather unfortunate cards, having to stay with his father, who is a depressed, drunk man for whom Charlie acts as a caretaker. Charlie’s friends act no more than strangers, and his grades are slowly degrading. Mistakenly, one day Fran Fisher comes bursting into his life. He soon gets wrapped into a theatre production of Shakespeare’s infamous Romeo and Juliet, in hopes of gaining attention from Fran. He is cast as Benvolio, Romeo’s fateful sidekick, while Fran is cast as Juliet.

Being involved in the production causes Charlie to see another side of him that he didn’t know existed. Hanging out with Fran causes him to look at life differently. David Nicholls manages to capture the perfect feeling of sweet sorrow in the endless troublesome journey into adulthood. A teenager such as Charlie who looked at life so cynically with nothing left to give manages to change throughout a few pages because of another teenage girl who shows him how life could be. Diving into the subject of first love,first night together perfectly shows readers the sweet sorrows that we will experience. While the novel has two separate stories happening at once, the first being the recollection of Charlie’s teenage life, the other being engaged to his soon-to-be wife; who is not Fran. Only when the first love has burned out, then you can look back and see the lessons you’ve learned and the feelings you’ve experienced.

This book is a perfect last summer read before the school year starts again. If you have a liking for coming-of-age stories, this book will most definitely exceed your expectations.

-Hannah R.