Monday, November 25, 2013

Book Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Pages: 328
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Pub. Date: February 26, 2013
Source: Personal Copy
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under."

The year is 1986 and Eleanor and Park go to the same high school. Eleanor is a new student and is a bit strange. She has unruly red hair, she's overweight, has freckles, and dresses unconventionally.  Park is Korean, quiet, enjoys comics, music and is a wallflower.  Eleanor is looking for a seat on the school bus and is having a hard time finding one. Park decides to let her sit with him, just so the bus can finally pull away. Surprisingly for both of them a friendship and something more ensues.  They both feel out of place at times and although they are so very different, they can't deny their connection to each other.  Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell is a beautifully written story that captures high school life and the all-consuming first love that a person never forgets.

Eleanor is a character that really tugged on my heartstrings. Her mother is a complete loser and shacks up with losers. Her current man du jour is Richie who is seriously a degenerate and now Eleanor's step-father.  He drinks, he abuses her mother, and treats the children like dirt. Eleanor is forced to sleep in a room with all of her siblings, take baths in a room without a door and deal with Richie's interrogation on a daily basis.  Although she loves her siblings, she dreams of escaping. I mean who wouldn't?! And you would think her mother would do something about their situation, but no. She doesn't, which makes her just as bad. My heart felt soooo heavy reading about Eleanor's situation and I just wanted her to be happy, which is where Park comes in.

Park lives in a beautiful home with two doting parents and one brother. His home life is the compete opposite of Eleanor.  He sort of feels like a misfit as well, but is more socially accepted than Eleanor. Although he knows that Eleanor is sort of weird and gets bullied at school, he likes her and their friendship blossoms as they read comics together on the way to school.  I adored the character of Park in Eleanor & Park. What a good guy! He stands up for Eleanor when she is bullied at school, he sees who she really is behind the weird clothes and extra pounds and is a true friend to her. I couldn't get enough of Park.

Rowell's writing is supurb in Eleanor & Park. There is something about it that I really loved, but I can't quite put my finger on it. I think it's her realistic dialogue and her ability to make me laugh out loud in one moment and then cry the next.  At times, her style reminded me of John Green's for the simple fact that I wanted to re-read certain lines over and over because they were just that beautiful and poignant. Here are a few of my favorite lines:

  • “Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn't supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.” 
  • “Holding Eleanor's hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like holding something complete, and completely alive.” 
  • "Or maybe, he thought now, he just didn't recognize all those other girls. The way a computer drive will spit out a disk if it doesn't recognize the formatting.  When he touched Eleanor's hand, he recognized her. He knew.” 

Simply put, Eleanor and Park's relationship is awesome. Rowell really captures what that first relationship is like. It was beautiful, it was heart-wrenching, it was real and I loved it! With that said, I highly recommend Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, especially if you are a fan of contemporary fiction.  I plan on reading more of Rowell's novels in the future.

17 comments:

  1. Couldn't agree with you more.This book made me ache, but in the best of ways. And to this day I've never read a better recreation of what it feels like to fall in love for the first time.

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    1. I'm so glad you agree. Exactly! Rowell captured it perfectly. Thanks for visiting!

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  2. Fangirl was my first Rainbow Rowell book and I absolutely adored that one so I now need to go and read everything she's ever written:) This one is next on my list for sure! I think she writes such brilliant characters, and I simply cannot wait to meet Park (and Eleanor too, but I'm particularly interested in Park). Beautiful review Christina!

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    1. I need to read Fangirl! I've heard such awesome things. I can't wait for you to read E&P. You'll love it! Thank you for visiting, Jenny!

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  3. This book is so beautiful and so wonderful. I can't say it enough. Rainbow Rowell knows beautiful writing. Glad you loved this one as well, Christina. :)

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    1. I completely agree! :) I need to read her other books as well. Thank you for dropping by!

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  4. I have heard nothing but good things about this book! I have it on hold at the library, and I can't wait for it to finally come in. I want to read Fangirl too! :) Thanks for sharing your lovely review! I'm even more excited to read it now. :)

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    1. I definitely want to read Fangirl as well. I can't wait for you to get your hands on a copy. You'll love it! Thank you for visiting, Christy!

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  5. Sounds amazing. I look forward to reading it.

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    1. I hope you get to read it soon. I think you'd really like it, Juju. Thanks for dropping by!

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  6. This is probably my favorite read of the year! There is something special about the way Rowell tells a story, and she is at her best in Eleanor & Park. I've also read Attachments and Fangirl, and I loved those so much too.

    I'm so glad you liked E&P!

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    1. I am definitely thinking it will be one of my favorites as well. I agree. Rowell is super talented. I need to read her other books too. Thank you for dropping by, Quinn.

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  7. I loved the writing style as well as the story. It was just so moving. While I loved Fangirl too (and found it easy to relate to Cath), that one just wasn't as emotional to read. I think Eleanor & Park is one of those stories that just stays with you. My book group read it a few months ago and they loved it too. I can't wait to read what she writes next!

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    1. Me too! Rowell is such a fantastic author. I'm so glad you liked this one too! Thanks for visiting, Christina!

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  8. I haven't read this one, but I have only heard amazing things about it. I love contemporary fiction that evokes emotion, and this one sounds sweet, rich and really evocative. Wonderful review, Christina! :)

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  9. Thank you so much, Melissa. I think you wold like this one if you like emotional reads…this story definitely tugged on my heartstrings. THanks for visiting!

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  10. I really want to read this novel, even more now that it is showing up on so many Best of 2013 lists! I heard her 2nd novel is just as good, though totally different.
    Best Link to DFW Knee Doctor Dr Schnee

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