Eleanor and Park by Rainbow RowellYoung Adult Romance/Realistic Fiction
It's been awhile since I've loved a book this much, but this is definitely the best book I've read this year. I didn't expect to love it quite as much as I did, but it's one of those books I carried around with me, stealing moments until I could finish the whole thing, literally reading in line at the grocery store and at red lights. (Yes, I might be that person you have to honk at because I didn't notice the light turning green.)
The story is told alternately from the viewpoints of Eleanor...and Park. Eleanor and Park have nothing is common. Eleanor is a new student, having just recently been reunited with her dysfunctional, neglectful, and abusive family. Park is a long-time resident, solid in his social standing at school. He has no plans to talk with Eleanor or get to know her, until the day his kindness causes him to rudely offer her half of his bus seat. What develops is a romance that is painful and beautiful and watching it unfold is like watching a tender rose bloom. Park and Eleanor are two broken people who find something beautiful in each other and themselves.
This book was so tragically honest. It brought back to me those awkwardfully painful high school days, the rush and crush of a first love, and the heartache of a broken family. I can't recommend this book enough. Even though it has young adult narrators, it's a story that any age would find connections with. I'm so delighted to find a new author and I plan on buying and reading every one of her books. If any of them are even half as good, it will be an amazing read.