I think it's really hard to write a love story that feels different from all those love stories that have already been written. How to make your love story offer something unusual to readers? Well, some authors solve that problem by making one of their falling-in-love characters a sparkly vampire hottie. That is not what Pete Hautman did. He did something cooler. He made his characters normal. Very normal.
I love this idea.
I love this idea because it is true. Normal people fall in love. Their stories deserve to be told every bit as much as the stories of sparkly vampire hotties. The awesome miracle of love is in no way enhanced by characters' sparkly-ness. Love is awesome no matter what. I promise that when you read The Big Crunch, you will be convinced that normal, non-sparkly love, is wonderful, and not in a cheesy way.
(Just in case you can't tell, I'm kind of in love with this book).
June moves around a lot because of her dad's work. When she ends up in Minnesota, she's less than thrilled ("it's the frozen asshole of the universe"). She loathes the place, but the people are okay, just like everywhere else she's ever lived. June doesn't plan on making too many connections because she figures she's just going to have to leave again soon, so why go through the hassle of getting close to anybody. Then along comes Wes. It is not love at first sight. It just works it way towards happening, and when it does, it's intense. As June predicted, it isn't long before it looks like she'll be moving again. June and Wes aren't sure what's going to happen next. (And I'm not telling. You have to read it to find out).
The Big Crunch is perfect and funny and charming in the way that a great indie movie love story is perfect and funny and charming. It reminded me of 500 Days of Summer, another "this is not a love story" love story. It'll make you remember that love doesn't have to be sparkly to be interesting. Highly recommended.
The Big Crunch is published by Scholastic. Perfect for your Valentine, I'd say.
One more thing - I think this is the first time I've noticed anything like this, but there seems to be an error on the jacket of the book. On my copy, it refers to "Jen and Wes" but the characters inside the book and June and Wes. Weird.