Have you ever read a book that made you SO EXCITED you wanted to force a copy of it on everyone you know, so you could immediately start talking/crying/laughing about it together? It happened to me with The Fault in Our Stars, and now it's happening again.
Because you must, must, MUST read Eleanor & Park.
It's the story of two high school juniors who meet on the school bus, and hate each other from the start. Eleanor is the awkward, eccentrically dressed new girl, and Park's the medium-popular boy who just wants to keep his head down and get through the day without too much trouble.
But after he lets Eleanor take the seat beside him on the bus (a big social risk), things start to change, and slowly those bus rides together become the best part of their day. From this modest setup blooms one of my favorite love stories ever told in YA. If I haven't yet convinced you to drop everything and READ. THIS. BOOK, allow me to keep trying. Here are my favorite things about Eleanor & Park:
1. The love story. You better believe Eleanor and Park don't fall in love at first sight. In fact, they can't stand each other. When that starts to change, it's the little things that do it: Park likes the way Eleanor reads a poem in class, and the fact that her mouth looks a little like the Joker's (this is a compliment). Eleanor starts to fall for his strong hands, and the stack of comic books he lets her read over his shoulder, though he pretends not to see her doing it. You guys? The first time they hold hands, you're going to squee. And the first time they talk on the phone, you're going to PASS OUT.
2. The funny. Eleanor and Park are hilarious and smart, and they talk like human beings. None of that "And so the lion fell in love with the lamb" bull-pucky in sight. And for extra comic relief, you've got Park's friend Cal, an irrepressible girl chaser who never gives up his dream of dating a girl who is not only WAY out of his league, but actually into Park instead of him.
4. The heartbreak. Without giving away too much, I'll just say that this book has higher stakes and more genuine heartache than just about every YA book I've ever read—including the ones about saving the world. Eleanor's atrocious home life is rendered so realistically you can smell it, and I spent the entire book veering between joy over the love story and fear that Eleanor's terrible stepfather would find a way to ruin it.
In closing, READ ELEANOR & PARK. And then report back. Because you're going to love it.