I wrote last week’s column while wearing my crankypants. I make no apologies. I was having difficulty filling my craving for a good love story, and in my book, that’s more than enough excuse for any amount of testiness. But this week, all is right with the world again, thanks to three different readers who recommended the solution: Cath Crowley’s lovely, romantic Graffiti Moon.

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But, Leila, you say: How can a book include two broken noses, a cockroach-eating psychopath, a slew of painfully embarrassing moments, a bike crash, egg-throwing, vomit and a guy named Gorilla be lovely or romantic?

To which I answer: Well, while it includes all of those things, it also takes place over the course of one night (always romantic), and is about a girl searching for a mysterious graffiti artist while in the company of the boy she had a disastrous date with two years ago...who happens to secretly be the guy she’s looking for*. It’s about two people getting past first impressions and long-held assumptions (and yes, she’s a fan of Pride and Prejudice), about art, family and friendship, loneliness and longing. It made me laugh out loud and it made me cry. And, at times, it made my heart feel too big for my chest.

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The dialogue pops, the voices and perspectives ring true, and Leo—Ed’s partner in crime—writes poetry that occasionally brings to mind early Tom Waits. I dog-eared so many pages that it would take less time to reread the book than it would to go back and find all of the passages I want to remember. Like Anna and the French Kiss, it’s a book that I loved so much that I hugged it when I was done reading. Yes, literally.

Other lovely books that came to mind as I read it:

nick Nick and Norahs Infinite Playlist: Another up-all-night love story about two people—Nick and Norah share music rather than art—who find each other and lose each other and find each other again. Like Graffiti Moon, the male lead has unresolved issues with his ex-girlfriend, and it has an absolutely lovable cast of secondary characters.

The Opposite of Invisible: Another sweet romance in which the heroine is into glassblowing. It’s set in Seattle, while Graffiti Moon is Australian, but they both have a very strong sense of place.

Same Difference: This one is more about a girl figuring herself out than finding romance, but if you want a story about the life-changing power of discovering art, this one is for you.

Saving Francesca: Another Aussie YA romance in which the heroine vomits. There’s much more to it than that, of course, and it’s one of my very favorite books EVER. So if you haven’t read it, you should. Right now.

Thank you so, so much for the recommendation, ladies. It was exactly what I was looking for.


*That’s not a spoiler! Ed and Lucy alternate narration, so we know about Ed’s alter-ego from the beginning.

Let's be honest. If she isn't writing Bookshelves of Doom or doing her librarian thing, Leila Roy is most likely being tragically unproductive due to the shiny lure of Pinterest.