Unrequited Love—With a Splash of Magical Water
Perhaps you were 12 years old once and had a huge, devastating, impossible crush on an older boy—say, a friend of your brother's or a camp counselor. Now imagine what would happen if this boy remained a teenager forever, allowing you to grow up and close the five-year age gap between you—at which point he would fall madly in love with you. In this exquisitely written children's novel (which just happens to be perfect for adults too), little Winnie Foster falls for handsome Jesse Tuck—a 17-year-old who's stuck in time, having drunk from a real-life fountain of youth. All the pangs of unrealized romance are here. You swoon with Winnie, and you watch quietly with her as she observes Jesse in the detailed, subtle way we reserve for our beloved, noting how he rows a boat or wears a "loose grubby shirt with as much assurance as if it were silk or satin." There are larger themes at play in the book—about time and greed and our longing for connection and permanence—but the dazzled view that Winnie has of this boy will catapult you back to a time when love was enough: You weren't expected to do anything about it; it would have been inappropriate and no doubt embarrassing if you had. All that was required was that you sat there by the river or in the playground or in the family TV room and felt it in yourself.
— Leigh Newman