Friday, April 18, 2014

Eleanor & Park

Eleanor & Park
Rainbow Rowell

Published 2012

First Sentence
"He'd stopped trying to bring her back."
Publisher's Description:

Two misfits. One extraordinary love.

Eleanor... Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough...Eleanor.

Park... He knows she'll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises...Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

Dear Reader,

You've heard of this book, unless you live underground and HATE books. This book has been one of the most talked about in social media and I can see the appeal. Rowell writes a very cute story about an unlikely couple who slowly grow to like/love each other. We have Park, the token Asian kid who wears black eyeliner, listens to music, reads comics and broods on the bus. I'll also add that he comes from a somewhat normal loving family. He has enough of an "IN" with the popular kids to be left alone (if not included sometimes). Then we have Eleanor, the eclectic dresser, slightly plump with messy red hair who comes from a very poor and dysfunctional family. She is the ultimate target for any bully and we automatically see that happen when she moves to this new school and rides the bus for the first time. Eleanor and Park meet, yes... on that bus. He sort of offers her the seat next to him, in a angry kind of way. After spending time together on the bus... BAM, that's the start of a beautiful teenage romance. I found Eleanor had more depth to her character, possibly because of her strength and what she has to endure from her dysfunctional family. Park has it a little bit easier but Rowell did a nice job creating two characters with enough hardship to be able to speak to the kids/teens reading this book.

The first half of Eleanor & Park had me hooked (I would have given the book 5 stars if it stayed at that level) but then it started getting a little annoying and drab. I was hoping the gushing and teenage fighting would just stop, and maybe it's my age but I read just about enough teen angst to last me for a long time. It might have been the fact that I listened to it on audible and hearing the whining teenage voices got quite old. I don't mean to be harsh in that aspect because I believe it might just be me.

But for that little gripe, this book has some fantastic moments. Rowell throws you back in time, she makes you feel that stomach flip all over again, like the first time you held a hand with someone you liked. THAT was excellent but along with the good comes the bad and if anyone remembers young love, the bad can be so ridiculous! I adore that Rowell captured the bad so accurately but I wasn't that thrilled with having to go along for the bumpy ride. Who wants to relieve those ridiculous hormone driven fights from those younger years? Nope, no thanks. But could Rowell have delivered a full story without it? Probably not. I think I ended up with an understanding that those parts I didn't really like were necessary and I shouldn't judge them too harshly. This book is a huge hit and CLEARLY the good parts of it have reached out their tentacles and latched on to many. From what I hear, the Author's earlier book, Fangirl, might be more to my liking. I'm not much for romance but I do love some childhood geeky nostalgia, and Fangirl sounds chock full of it.  

Happy Reading,

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