This real-life Eleanor & Park prove that real life can be as romantic as a YA novel

We’ve all read a YA novel and thought to ourselves, ‘this is really nice and all but it would never really happen in real life’.

Well it turns out, we were wrong. All of us. Because it DOES happen in real life. In fact, it happened to Claudia and Ben.

Um, who are Claudia and Ben?

Right, Claudia is a fan who commented on author Rainbow Rowell’s Facebook page after reading her novel Eleanor & Park. Published in 2013 and named by The New York Times as one of the best young adult fiction books that year, Eleanor & Park is a book about music and falling in love and second chances and… oh, you should probably just read it.

Claudia posted on Rainbow’s wall, explaining:

…Reading your words was like tearing away an old scab. I still remember the desperate need, the feeling of drowning and the overwhelming experience of my first love. I broke poor, sweet Ben’s heart when I broke up with him before leaving for college, and then never answered any of the letters or emails he sent me afterwards.

Claudia grew up in Indianapolis as the only Korean kid in her school. But it wasn’t just that she looked different from her classmates, she felt different too. While they were all dressed in clothes from the mall, she dressed in army surplus jackets. While they were listening to John Mellencamp, she was listening to The Cure.

And then she met Ben.

We spent long nights on the phone and snuck out to see each other whenever we could.

But they’re young and they have lives to live. She goes off to college, he stays in their Midwestern town. They get married to other people. Then they get divorced. They Google each other every so often, just to check on what the other one is doing. In 2007, they become Facebook friends.

And then, in 2010…

They meet at a coffee shop. They hold hands, and it was as if they had never spent the last 19 years apart.

(That weeping sound you hear right now? That would be me).

Everyday, I look into Ben’s eyes and marvel at my good fortune. We laugh and talk about how lucky we are to have found each other again. But sometimes I don’t think it’s luck. It feels more like destiny. When we were 15, I told him that it was a one in a million chance that we, as high school sweethearts, would get married. And he looked at me with his sweet face and said “it’s one in a million, but we could be the one!”

Turns out, Ben was right. They were the one in a million.

Meanwhile, Facebook tells me that my first boyfriend just got back from a caravanning trip around central Australia with his girlfriend and they just bought a puppy together. So there’s that.

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