Rich and Mad

Rich and Mad

3.5 11
by William Nicholson

Maddie is a 16-year-old who decides she's ready to fall in love, and sets her sights on a popular boy in her theater club. As they embark upon a secret email relationship, Maddie starts to wonder—does he like her back? Or is a more average boy, a boy on the fringe who reads books, and who has a crush on her friend, the one who might ultimately touch her heart?

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Maddie is a 16-year-old who decides she's ready to fall in love, and sets her sights on a popular boy in her theater club. As they embark upon a secret email relationship, Maddie starts to wonder—does he like her back? Or is a more average boy, a boy on the fringe who reads books, and who has a crush on her friend, the one who might ultimately touch her heart?

A novel about a teen who learns that your first love might not be the popular boy you notice first. The final scene of the book, which ends with their first love-making session, is tender, touching, and real.

Also available in hardcover (ISBN 978-1-60684-120-4) and e-book (ISBN 978-1-60684-183-9) editions.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this tender book about first love from Nicholson (the Noble Warriors series), classmates Rich and Maddy barely know each other when he asks her for help winning over her friend, Grace. But after they each face heartbreak, 16-year-olds Maddy and Rich realize they are meant for each other. Readers will easily fall for these sensitive teenagers. Rich reads from Erich Fromm’s The Art of Loving and reveals vulnerable feelings in his journal (“So what happens if all the girls I want turn out not to want me?”). Maddy, meanwhile, is coping with her father’s affair, a friend’s betrayal, and a growing understanding that love--and her emotions--are complex (“I’m complicated in ways I’ve never realized before. Not just happy or sad, but both, and all the shades in-between, all the time”). There is a lot of intense background plotting, including Maddy’s older sister’s abusive relationship and a teacher who leaves amid rumors that he is “a danger to the students.” But it’s Rich and Maddy’s honest (and explicit) exploration of themselves, love, sex, and each other that will most make an impression. Ages 14–up. (Sept.)
VOYA - Geri Diorio
Maddie and Rich have never considered each other as boyfriend/girlfriend material, and there are difficulties on their way to couplehood. Rich has a crush on Maddie's girlfriend, Grace. Maddie likes the popular Joe Finnegan, but Joe has a steady girlfriend. Their home lives are complicated: Maddie's parents' business is having financial troubles, her dad is cheating on her mom, and Rich's beloved grandmother is dying. There are school issues: a favorite, unconventional teacher is accused of impropriety and ends up quitting. And there is an entire subplot about violence against women, as both Grace and Maddie's sister, Imo, get beaten by their (unknowingly shared) lover, Leo. But Rich and Mad do end up connecting, both emotionally and in an explicitly physical way. The writing is an interesting combination of lyrical philosophizing, dramatic action, and friendly banter. The characters can be almost unrealistically thoughtful, such as when Rich ponders: "So I'm nervous about sex . . . nothing unusual there. So I want the safety of closeness. So I want the no-fail zone of love." Maddie surprises everyone with the depths of her anger when she lashes out at Leo, hitting him with a beer mug. And both Rich and Maddie have wacky sidekick best friends, who end up flirting by the book's end. (You can tell the author is a screenwriter.) Though this will be popular because of the graphic love scenes, there's more here than just sex. Teens who read beyond that will find a thoughtful coming-of-age tale. Reviewer: Geri Diorio
School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up—This novel, narrated with limited omniscience from the points of view of 16-year-old Maddie and her classmate Rich, describes both characters' growing interest in romance and intimacy. When Maddie develops a crush on Joe, a popular guy who has been dating another girl for years, he seems to signal his interest by communicating with her through email, sending Maddie bons mots while encouraging her to keep their electronic relationship a secret. Meanwhile, Rich nurses a crush on Grace, Maddie's distant, icy, and beautiful friend. As the lovelorn Rich and Maddie pine for the objects of their desire, Maddie, in a plot twist reminiscent of Jaclyn Moriarty's The Year of Secret Assignments (Scholastic 2005), discovers that she has been used as a pawn by a friend involved in a dangerous romance, a finding that draws her closer to Rich. Although drawn as distinct individuals, the protagonists are hard to know; their thoughts and actions are told more than they are shown. When Rich and Maddie's relationship grows intimate, Nicholson's prose is distinctly romantic, though intellectualized, somewhat impersonal, and even mechanical. "She wants to please me. She gives me her body to please me," thinks Rich, after a particularly steamy encounter. Nicholson does not shy away from sexual explication, a characteristic that distinguishes the novel. Just as Judy Blume's Forever (Bradbury, 1975) has been lauded for its frankness but criticized for its clinical language, Rich and Mad might be similarly but guardedly praised.—Amy S. Pattee, Simmons College, Boston
Kirkus Reviews
Maddy has her sights set on popular Joe, even going on the pill and watching porn in preparation for a relationship; Rich, listening to his family's vinyl records and garnering tips from Erich Fromm's bestseller, The Art of Loving, hopes to win over gorgeous, aloof Grace. Despite this lust-from-afar, the 17-year-old British teens, self-proclaimed losers with no experience in love or sex, discover true love with each other. Although the cover suggests a cheaply titillating read, Academy Award–nominated screenwriter Nicholson realistically captures the eagerness, insecurities, fear and wonder of sexual awakening, culminating with a frank yet tender depiction of the "first time." While a few side stories and twists, such as rumors of the English teacher's sexual orientation, Rich's grief after his grandmother's passing and Maddy's sister's involvement with an abusive boyfriend, tend toward the moralistic, they also serve to highlight the teens' gentle, respectful and satisfying lovemaking. In the tradition of Forever, this is destined to become a classic as a go-to source for teens curious about both the physical and emotional aspects of sex. (Fiction. 15 & up)
From the Publisher
"Rich and Mad is William Nicholson's first foray into the young adult genre. I certainly hope it isn't his last." - NY Journal of Books

". . . it's Rich and Maddy's honest (and explicit) exploration of themselves, love, sex, and each other that will most make an impression." - Publisher's Weekly

"[F]or those eager to figure out the emotional and physical dimensions of that crazy little thing called love, this is a remarkably thorough and consistenyly engaging treatment." - The Bulletin

"Nicholson does not shy away from sexual afflication, a characteristic that distinguishes the novel." - School Library Journal

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Product Details

Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.30(d)
HL500L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

William Nicholson is an acclaimed screenwriter (Gladiator, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Nell) and playwright (Shadowlands) who is the author of two popular fantasy trilogies, The Wind on Fire and Noble Warriors. Cate Blanchett starred in his most recent film Elizabeth: The Golden Age in 2007.

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Rich and Mad 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Burg More than 1 year ago
I was expecting a love story filled with the romance of all that's involved. All the firsts but with a romantic twist but I was wrong. I felt like this was possibly a more realistic showing of relationships and navigating your way through them but the romance factor for me was small. And in retrospect I guess if it was such a neat and romantic process the whole way through your first experiences we'd all be married off before we graduated high school right? As much as I was hoping and expecting a romantic tale, I thought it was refreshing to read such an accurate (and cringe-worthy at times) take on the whole experience. William Nicholson continued to surprise me with his believable characters. Maddie wants to be in love (and who hasn't been there) and she has it all worked out in her head. Too bad the "perfect" guy she has in mind has a girlfriend? Well it certainly doesn't stop her plan to be put into action. However much I enjoyed Nicholson's take on these elements I think this is one of those YA books that is meant for young adults and teens only. I did like it but it won't become a favorite of mine or a future re-read. I think it's hard to be anywhere but in the middle on this one. I most definitely didn't hate it but I didn't love it either. The ending wraps up nicely and I left the book feeling satisfied that everything worked out the way I was hoping it would.
Dazzlamb More than 1 year ago
Two teenagers falling in love for the very first time. Doesn’t that sound like a romantic and potentially overwhelming story? I imagined Mad- Maddy- to be independent and strong and Rich-Richard- to be that reckless and sexy young man. They both were nothing like that though. Maddy is so gullible and somehow doesn’t get what’s really happening around her. And then Richard is compulsively insecure and clumsy with all things concerning girls. Rich and Mad’s families as their friends and crushes play a big role in the story aswell. How many illusional feelings and miserable thoughts can a young person bear and what does it take to take them away and replace them with self-confidence and happiness? That’s what RICH AND MAD is all about. I also liked that he involved the topic of sex and that he made clear that it can be a very dominant part of a teenager’s life. But their love story simply wasn’t what I'd expected. I had been really looking forward to read RICH AND MAD, in the end it just wasn’t for me. There were too many issues and no clear line to follow. And I cannot believe the low self-esteem many characters showed so my connection to the characters was rather distant. Rich and Mad's romance didn’t convince me either since it felt forced and meagre most of the time. Note that RICH AND MAD contains explicit content such as physical and psychical violence and sexual interactions. William Nichols provides the reader with vivid details. Those scenes would have felt a lot more meaningful though if the romance between them had been a part of the story from the beginning on and not just some kind of rational decision. THE VERDICT RICH AND MAD- Hormonal teenagers and a ton of personal, familial and social issues. That’s what William Nicholson’s RICH AND MAD has to offer. Unfortunately the story lacks the emotional depth I had wished for.
Awesome514 More than 1 year ago
Fantastic and unexpected. Reading this as an adult, I can appreciate the beauty and truth in this novel. The characters are vivid and the conflicts apply to all ages. My absolute favorite line (among many) - "You don't get loved as a reward for something. People need to love..."
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so_death_bye More than 1 year ago
I love it was deep and real.