There are many levels to my book choice today, but the romance aspect is definitely a major, major point of excellence. Major.
The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
For the love of all that is holy, this book is incredible. I recently wrote a review for it (that hasn't been posted yet) but the first note I wrote on it was: "I could read this book over and over for the rest of my life and never tire of it." Every bit of that is true. I wish I could go back in time and read it again for the first time. The reading experience for this is unmatched. It's like your heart is going to burst with every page, and the mystery is the emotion behind the heart-splosion. Will it be from epic sadness? Overwhelming love? The gorgeous, graceful, delectable, eat-it-with-a-spoon writing? How about ALL OF THOSE THINGS combined?
As far as the romance in this novel goes, let me just say that it is INTENSE. Lennie is just barely coping with her sister's tragic and extremely sudden death when she meets the incomparable Joe Fontaine. Joe and his Magnificent Eyelashes are a force to be reckoned with, and Lennie can't only hope to contain herself whenever Joe's around. Unfortunately, Lennie chooses to cope with her sister's death by sharing many, shall we say, make-y-out-y moments with her sister's boyfriend Toby. She has confusing, all-encompassing, wildly crazy feelings for both of them, but not in the same way.
In fact, that's a big reason why I think this book is so incredible. It touches on an aspect of grief that often gets swept under the rug. Everyone deals with grief in different ways. Some of those ways are kind of inappropriate, but it's what that person needs to make themselves feel better, to help them get through the day. This isn't to say that that makes it okay; it's just explaining why they're doing what they're doing. So, even though I kept wanting to scream at Lennie, "STOP KISSING TOBY! JOE IS RIGHT OUTSIDE! HE IS WAY HOTTER AND WAY MORE AWESOME!" (and occasionally I did yell at the book in this manner), I can understand why she's acting the way she is.
Though she obviously should be with Joe "Bat.Bat.Bat" Fontaine.
This book makes my heart ache in the very best way. Everyone should read it. And then read it again.
Side note: Lennie plays clarinet, and she's really, really good. Amazing that I would love that aspect of her, isn't it?
(sigh... some days, I actually miss it...)