This week I am reviewing RICH AND MAD by William Nicholson. RICH AND MAD is a story of firsts: first infatuation, first heartbreak, first love, first sex. Maddy and Rich find each other through their shared misery of unrequited crushes, and later through their shared desire to love and be loved.

The book asks lots of philosophical questions about love, as the characters read and debate Erich Fromm. The answers are never as clear as Maddy and Rich (or I) would like them to be. Is it better to love or be loved?

I enjoyed this book a lot, and as I think back on it, one word keeps coming to mind:


The romance is more realistic than romanticized, with the characters discovering that they like each other first, and gradually exploring the sexual aspects of their relationship. Their love is based on a mutual desire to have a boyfriend/girlfriend as much as any connection between the characters. The love they do find is less like the love they imagined they wanted, but also more. And, even as Rich and Mad explore and discover the beauty of love and sex, they also confront the ugly side: loss, infidelity, abuse and porn.

The book is full of quick, snappy dialogue, but the plot takes its time, letting the characters discover each other on their own terms. There's a fair amount of British slang, but I found I got used to it quickly so that I didn't notice it at all after the first chapter or two.

Yes, there is sex in this book, and its handled in a very straightforward unapologetic way. But it's also completely appropriate to the story, where sex is ultimately consummated with love. At least for now.

And that, is as real as it gets.


Really interesting to read this review; thanks for sharing. Someone I know read the arc and wasn't impressed at all, but he and I have very different taste in books. So I've been wondering what others would think of Rick & Mad.

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