Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
First impression: I saw this one at the store and wasn’t overly interested, but my friend loved it and forced me to read it
Last impression: That’s it? 😦
Format: Hardcover / 328 pages
Publishing Info: February 26th 2013 / Goodreads
Other books read by author: None yet!
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.
So I read this book right before I decided to start my book blog. As I said up there in the basics section, I saw the book at the store and passed it by countless times. The concept didn’t sound overly interesting to me so I never bothered. I had just lent my John Green books to a friend of mine, who then passed on Eleanor & Park to me. She highly recommended it so I decided to finally give it a go. The story was simultaneously an adorable tale about first love and a story that will break your heart. The love between Park and Eleanor was slowly developed perfectly. Pretty much think of the opposite of insta-love. The two were fascinated with each other at first but they both were mostly just curious. It all started when Park finally tipped his comic book so she could read along with him on the bus. Rainbow Rowell does such an amazing job of bringing the reader into their world and making you really feel for them. You remember all the first love jitters like they happened yesterday. Their story is more than just first love, though, as Eleanor struggles with her home life and Park is unsure if and how he can help. It’s just so heartbreaking. Eleanor & Park follows the two characters as they build their relationship, struggle with issues at home, and navigate high school. The end of the book was fitting but definitely left me wanting more. After the plot reached its climax, I kept thinking “please don’t let this end, please don’t let this end right now!” because I was so afraid it would be left wide open. I won’t spoil too much, but I will say that I wish there was just ONE more chapter.
- Eleanor comes from the epitome of a broken home. Her stepfather is awful and the family has no money. Her and her siblings live in constant fear of their stepfather and are constantly walking on eggshells. Her family life really made me nervous and sad; I felt like I was scared in the house with them. There were lots of little hints about what may happen She is constantly picked on for her odd clothes and vibrant red hair, but she stays as strong as she can.
- Park, who is at first irritated that the weird new girl has to share his seat on the bus, slowly becomes intrigued by her. He comes to realize that she is no more a misfit than he is; he’s half white and half Korean. He was always self-conscious about what everyone thought of him. This somewhat changed when he started dating Eleanor; he just cared so much about her. I loved the way he thought about her and appreciated her:
“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.”
I can’t believe I haven’t gotten around to reading another book my Rainbow Rowell yet. I absolutely loved her style. The story flowed seamlessly, was built up perfectly, and left me wanting more. She’s such a talented writer who definitely deserves all of the recent attention she’s been getting. (I honestly think I’m a little afraid to read her other books because I don’t want to ruin the near-perfection that was Eleanor & Park). Seriously so many great quotes, too:
“What are the chances you’d ever meet someone like that? he wondered. Someone you could love forever, someone who would forever love you back? And what did you do when that person was born half a world away? The math seemed impossible.”
“Nothing before you counts,” he said. “And I can’t even imagine an after.”
“I miss you, Eleanor. I want to be with you all the time. You’re the smartest girl I’ve ever met, and the funniest, and everything you do surprises me. And I wish I could say that those are the reasons I like you, because that would make me sound like a really evolved human being …‘But I think it’s got as much to do with your hair being red and your hands being soft … and the fact that you smell like homemade birthday cake”
I highly recommend this to any person living under a rock who hasn’t read it yet! 😛 It seems like everyone has at this point. Fans of contemporary YA that enjoy some heavier topics too should definitely check this one out. It’ll give you all of the first love feels and make you remember how awkward you were in high school.
Again, I really wish the ending gave me a little more. I think it was fitting given the circumstances, though. I have to say I was a little surprised by the ending too. It’s really hard to not give anything away here!! Despite my lukewarm thoughts on how the book ended, I would highly recommend it. It lost half a star from me just because of the ending. Otherwise, the characters were so incredibly unique and realistic. They were dealing with far more than any high schooler should have to deal with – and they did it extremely well.