Vast Fields of OrdinaryTitle: The Vast Fields of Ordinary
Author: Nick Burd
ISBN: 9780803733404
Pages: 309 pages
Publisher/Date: Dial Books, c2009.

I was sixteen at the time, and I knew I wasn’t straight. I’d known that for a fact since I was ten and my babysitter Kendra Kaufman let me stay up late and watch Nigh of 1,000 Werewolves, one of Johnny Morgan’s first films.
“I want to marry Johnny Morgan,” I told her when the credits were rolling.
“Kid,” Kendra said, “don’t tell our parents I let you watch that movie, and definitely don’t tell them what you just told me.” (15)

Dade Hamilton is struggling to come to grips with his life, which is spinning out of control. His dad tells him that he’s cheating on Dade’s mother, before telling his mother. He’s introduced to Lucy, a lesbian who has moved from California to live with her aunt in the small Iowa town because her parents think it will straighten her out. Finally, Dade realizes just after high school graduation that the guy he’s been dating will never be interested in breaking up with his public girlfriend and pursuing their secret relationship. When things couldn’t get any worse, Dade meets Alex at a party. From that starts an never ending spiral of events in Nick Burd’s The Vast Fields of Ordinary.

I’m going to be quite frank: I did not like this book. It was a pure struggle for me to continue reading this book to the very end. The events are depressing, and not in Lemony Snicket kind of sarcastic/ironic type of way. Drug use, alcoholism, and rampant sexuality abound in this book, which ends in a character’s suicide. I understand the need for books for teens who do witness and live with these types of problems. For me, who has never smoked or drank or dealt with events even remotely similar to what Dade and his friends encounter, it was a difficult read. You would really, really need to know the patron to be able to accurately and appropriately recommend this book. Haulden Caulfield in Catcher in the Rye comes to mind with similar events, but it is definitely not of the same par as the classic.

While I’ll admit to a tendency to read happy books, I have throughly enjoyed books with sad endings and events in the past. They however must drive the plot. Dade does have a personal ephihany of sorts by the end, but it has taken him so long to reach that position, that I didn’t have any enthusiasm or investment in the characters. This first book, in my opinion, was a sensationalistic first flop.