I received this book for free from the Publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Published by St Martin's Press on 2013-02-26
Genres: Love & Romance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Source: the Publisher via NetGalley
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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.
This book was completely adorable. And very emotional. I loved being transported back in time to the 80s and reading about cassettes and The A-Team and Fraggle Rock and comic books and The Cure and batteries and landlines. I also loved experiencing love for the first time again and all of the emotions that go along with not just first love but also acceptance and friendship and family and bullying. This book covers so much and feels so honest, it was very refreshing.
Eleanor and Park is about Eleanor and Park. The book is told in third person POV and switches between Eleanor’s and Park’s stories. Eleanor is the new girl in school having just returned to her family after being sent away by her mom (because of her step-dad) for a year. She has big, curly, red hair and is slightly overweight. Her family is very low income and her step-dad is an alcoholic. She shares a room with her four siblings and is not close to her mom or dad. Park is originally from the neighborhood. His mom is Asian and his dad is a veteran. Park looks more like his mom than his dad. He feels like he doesn’t fit in with the other kids at school but that they accept him because they’ve all grown up together. He loves music and comic books. When Eleanor shows up on the bus one day, it is not love at first sight. As Eleanor and Park spend more time on the bus together, they begin to understand each other. And with the understanding comes other emotions. Watching these two misfits find each other and care for each other was very moving. The emotions they felt along the way were very real and raw and relateable.
My favorite part of the book was how the characters felt so real and honest. Nothing they did felt forced. They made mistakes, they had bad things happen, they were weird. I think it would be hard not to find a piece of yourself somewhere in Eleanor or Park. Their need for acceptance, for love, their desire to be seen, to feel important to their parents, to have someone that understands them. So much of what they felt and wanted seemed like what so many teenagers go through, even without the extreme circumstances of their lives. And I think that’s what makes it a great book, it’s ability to make everyone feel something.
I do want to warn you that this is not a typical romance. And while that is what makes it awesome, it is also what makes it a little hard to get through sometimes. The story is adorable, but the middle of the book drags a bit. There isn’t much action or activity, just a lot of talk and feelings and dealing with life and teenager stuff. I really liked it, but it did start to feel a bit repetitive and slow in the middle. A lot of romances have a lot of action and drama and intense emotions. This one runs a bit more steady. I really liked it, but the pace took a little bit to get used to. It also forced me to focus a bit more on the characters and what they were going through, and I really liked that. This isn’t meant to deter you from the book at all, just an observation and something for you to look out for.
Final Thoughts: I really enjoyed this book. It was a really great change of pace and a nice throwback to the 80’s. Eleanor and Park was a heartwarming romance that focused on the characters. It was emotional but also hopeful. Definitely not a typical romance, nor the typical romantic leads, but that’s what made this book great. I was definitely rooting for Eleanor and Park. I gave Eleanor and Park 4 stars and I definitely think you should give it a try.