On Valentine’s Day, NYU graduate and WSN alumnus Ian Mark debuted his first novel, “Love from Amanda to Zoey.” With a new adult novel under his belt, Mark’s achievements represents the dream of fellow English majors and any aspiring writers, providing hope for those yearning to follow a similar path.
The play of words in the title –– from A to Z –– should not be ignored. It mimics the cover of any self-help book found in the Strand Bookstore. The idea of
moving through steps parallels the actions of protagonist Zach Johnston and his seemingly poor luck with love.
“Love from Amanda to Zoey” opens with a rejection from Amanda, who is the first girlfriend in Zach’s alphabet. One of the most striking aspects of the novel is that every female character the reader meets follows — you guessed it — the letters of the alphabet.
A sense of anticipation settles on the reader as we wait through Erica, Jane and Wanda. The title sets a final goal, as does this intelligent pattern laid out by Mark. The reader knows that Zoey is the final destination and when she arrives, we exhale a collective sigh of relief.
However, Zach’s troubles do not cease when Zoey’s name appears for the first time on the page. The sometimes clueless Zach makes sure Zoey’s time on our page is plagued with trials and tribulations,like any relationship.
Another striking component of the novel is how relatable it is for any NYU student. For one, Mark wrote the character of Zach to be an NYU graduate like himself. The story takes place in and around NYU’s campus, with Zach referencing different buildings and hotspots around Washington Square Park.
He details the experiences of dorm life, right down to the overflowing trash can in the corner. Zach even laments the random roommate selection process in which he met his best friend, Brian. On every page, Mark highlights the nuances of living in New York after attending NYU and reflects upon the experience of being a Bobcat or a Violet, or whatever we call ourselves.
The topics discussed, however, aren’t exclusive to NYU. They ring true for any campus or student. Themes of drugs, sex, career searching and dating characterize “Love from Amanda to Zoey.” It excavates the awkward years between graduating and settling down and delivers them in a nostalgic, poignant way.
Mark captures every student’s feelings of loneliness by writing from experience. He lived it and now he shares his story in this new and intelligently written novel that every NYU student should read.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, March 5 print edition. Email Julia Fields at [email protected]