1. Katja Millay's lovely, emotive writing. It's raw and real; romantic without being cheesy; touching without being maudlin; and contains just the right amount of humour mixed in with the more harrowing elements of the story.
2. Josh, one of the two narrators. He's had everyone he's loved taken from him, and isolates himself as a result, but underneath all the hurt is a big, adorable heart. He's creative with wood (get your mind out of the gutter! Oh, is that just mine?) and makes beautiful furniture. Plus he's easy on the eyes. In my mind, kinda like this:
3. Nastya, the other narrator. She's even more messed up than Josh, and is hell-bent on getting revenge on the boy who attacked her and robbed her of her passion - her ability to play piano. She's fierce and furious; her anger is palpable and and her hurt is heartbreaking. You can't help but be pulled in to her story as it intertwines with Josh's and they both begin the journey to healing together.
4. The narration switches between Nastya and Josh's perspectives; I know not everyone likes dual narrators, but it really works for this story. With two such damaged protagonists who don't necessarily let other people see their real selves, it's helpful to get inside both of their heads. It makes it all the more interesting to see each one from the other's perspective, and contrast their view of themselves with how the other sees them.
5. The secondary characters. They're richly developed and not only important to Josh and Nastya's story, but also have their own subplots happening that make the narrative feel all the more real. I especially liked Drew, who turns out to have more charm and depth than your average douchey jock.
6. It's an addictive book; you'll start reading and the next thing you know five hours have passed and you haven't moved, except to turn the page.
7. The characters and story are so powerful that they stick in your head even when you're not reading it, and hang around for a long time after you've finished.
8. It's about love and family and grief and loss and identity and death and ice cream and creativity and everything that's important in life.
9. It's incredibly painful at times and will put you through an emotional wringer, but in the end there's a lovely sense of peace and closure.
10. The cover is not only gorgeous, it's relevant to the story and highlights the rich symbolism to be found throughout.
Published: Atria Books, November 2012 (Kindle edition)
Source: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley.
Get It: Amazon