2013 Reads: Forty-Seven {Eleanor & Park - Rainbow Rowell}

Saturday, February 15, 2014

I love when I go into a book knowing nothing about it before I turn the first page. Or, in this case, popped the first CD into my car.

The only thing I knew was that this was supposed to be a good book. And, it lived up to that recommendation.


This is the story of two star-crossed misfits who meet on a school bus in 1986. Their paths intertwine almost accidentally, but what becomes of them feels almost like fate. Though they ignore each other at first, these two awkward misfits form a lasting bond of friendship and then, eventually, love. Set over the course of one school year, Eleanor & Park will make you remember just how your young, first love felt and all the crazy things it made you do.

Eleanor and Park are wise enough to know that first love almost always ends, but they're brave enough to try and work it out. Heartbreaking at moments and yet incredibly uplifting in their care for each other, this book brings out the best - and worst - of high school love.


This book is so difficult to review because it is hard to wrap up why I loved it so much into a coherent stream of thoughts. It's a gritty and real look at life in high school that's wrapped up in the most unlikely, but beautiful love story.

I love both of the main characters. They're so real - awkward, imperfect, flawed, and genuine - and that's something I've really come to love in the books I read. It's so easy to write a perfect, flawless character. But people aren't perfect or flawless. And when an author is able to write a character who is a person? That's just amazing to me.

Eleanor is a chubby, vibrantly red-headed, high schooler with an awful home life. She's brought back to her family after a year being kicked out by her repulsive step-father and has to start over at a new school. She wears hand-me-downs that are too big for her and is bullied at school as well as at home. Park's home life is better than Eleanor's, but things are still challenging for him. He's half-Korean, the only non-white in his school, and a quiet kid who tries his best not to draw attention to himself. And the two of them grow so much over the course of the story. I was rooting for them every step of the way.

I loved that it was set with 1986 as a backdrop. A world full of mix-tapes and taking phone calls on your house phone. A world void of instant messaging and texting and Facebook. A world so close to our own, but still somehow so far away. It was a brilliant move on Rowell's part - to bring our not-so-distant past back to us. Because? Eleanor was bullied - much in the same way many kids are today. For her clothes, her weight, her looks, her everything. Maybe her tormentors didn't have Facebook to constantly harass her (which gave Eleanor a reprieve from her school issues when at home to deal with her home issues), but her life at school was still pretty grim. Maybe we're not so advanced as we like to picture ourselves to be?

It's a heavy novel. There were a few times I had to stop the audio book and listen to some music because I was so anxiously wrapped up in what was going on. I was convinced that something truly awful was going to happen a few times. I yelled at my radio a couple times too - warnings to certain characters. I just wanted to go in and fix everything for Eleanor and Park. I wanted things to be perfect for them in their imperfect world. And that? That is a mark of wonderful writing - that there were so many authentic feelings brought up.

And that ending? Oh. My. God. It was heartbreaking and brilliant and beautiful and perfect. It's a new beginning, even. And it just leaves you with so many questions and so, so, so much hope for their future(s). 


Title: Eleanor & Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Fiction, Romance 
Medium: Audio Book, 7 CDs
Publisher: Listening Library (26 February 2013)
Date Read: 20 December 2013
Source: Borrowed From The Library
Recommended For: High School +, Fans of John Green, High School Romance Readers
Challenges: Goodreads, 

First Line: XTC was no good for drowning out the morons at the back of the bus.
Favorite Line: 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.
Last Line: Just three words long. [whited out, for spoiler's sake]

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you all so much for your comments! I'm only happy when I have comments. Really. You are contributing to my future happiness right now! XOXO