Eleanor & Park – Rainbow Rowell

E&PFrom Goodreads.com:

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.

Published: 2013

Why I Chose It: After reading Fangirl and loving it, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on another Rainbow Rowell novel!

The Review:

Eleanor and Park made me smile from the very first page. We have two people who are both awkward in their own ways, and somehow, amazingly, they start to have feelings for one another.

I’m starting to think that Rowell is brilliant. The way she made these two fall for each other was perfect. It starts innocently enough – sharing comics, sharing music – and somewhere along the lines they start to have feelings for each other. Eventually, they depend on one another. I love all the little moments in this book. The first time they hold hands made me laugh. It was both a really normal moment of hey, we’re holding hands. Yet at the same time it was huge, because they had never held hands before, and this moment was alarmingly full of emotion. This book totally reminded me of what it is to be a young teenager and experiencing things like holding hands for the first time. It was very sweet.

This book highlighted everything that it is to be in high school and trying to survive. All of the interactions between students felt really legit. Plus there were so many good references in the book of music and comics, so I really felt like I was reading a true story from two teens in the 1980s. I also really appreciated how innocent the characters seemed at times, yet mature enough to be entering the phase of dating. This is one of the best books I’ve read that had young characters that aren’t made immature – they’re appropriately mature for their age, and felt incredibly authentic.

I also really adore both characters. Switching back and forth between their viewpoints was really well done. I got to see a bit of each of them, and the narrative seemed to be having a conversation with itself – revealing more about the characters and how they truly felt about one another. Eleanor made me laugh constantly. Her sarcasm was amazing, and I would re-read some of her passages just to hear her voice again. And I thought Park was awesome. I fell in love with him very early, and all I could do was wait with anticipation for Eleanor to see it too. I love the way they bantered with each other, and how they just seemed to fit together.

Yet it wasn’t just a cute love story. There were big issues going on behind the scenes, and even as Eleanor and Park are falling in love, Eleanor’s home life is falling apart. It was amazingly real and heartbreaking, and watching Eleanor have to go through this stuff made me want her and Park to get together even more – just so that she would have someone solid in her life. Park really took a backseat for me in this story, because I did get really absorbed with Eleanor and her story and what she was struggling through. I think Rowell did a really great job of balancing Eleanor’s home life and what she was building with Park.

There were a lot of emotions in this book, especially near the end – the ending is a bit bitter-sweet, and yet I couldn’t come up with any other way I’d want it to end. I read this so fast, but I want to read it again and really linger over each moment. Everything about this book felt so real and raw, and utterly enjoyable. This book is about life, and what it is to survive it. I’d recommend this for anyone r anyone who knows what it is to survive life and fall in love. :)

Rating: 5 / 5

Quotations:

“Park noticed the new girl at about the same time every everybody else did. She was standing at the front of the bus, next to the first available seat.
There was a new kid sitting there by himself, a freshman. He put his bag down on the seat beside him, then looked the other way. All down the aisle, anybody who was sitting alone moved to the edge of their seats. […] The new girl took a deep breath and stepped farther down the aisle. Nobody would look at her. Park tried not to, but it was kind of a train wreck/eclipse situation.” p. 7

“She didn’t even know where the bathroom was… She found it. There were only five rooms in the house, and the bathroom just barely counted. It was attached to the kitchen – like literally attached, without a door. This house was designed by cave trolls, Eleanor thought.” p. 17

 

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