Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell
Published: St. Martin’s Press, 2013
Worth Your Time?
Only if you have a heart.
“That isn’t even the right kind of racist.”
“She was the only person in class who’d read her poem like it wasn’t an assignment. She recited it like it was a living thing. Like something she was letting out.”
“She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.”
“You look like you. With the volume turned up.”
I love them.
Eleanor is unconventional. She’s not a beauty queen. She’s not outgoing or hilarious. She’s not the super-tough heroine who always stands up for what she believes in. She’s a victim, and she survives. She finds ways to escape, like any real person would. She takes a lot of hits and doesn’t fall. Quiet, but strong.
Park is average. He’s a little weird, but the back-of-the-bus kids don’t hate him. He’s a little different, and he sees beauty in things that are a little different. And he does stand up for things he believes in–even if it doesn’t always help.
All of the characters in this book feel like real people. The siblings act their age. The bullies have real motivations. And some of the characters get themselves into situations–or cause situations–that happen often in real life and not as often in literature. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable to read. Because it feels too real.
I was worried, at the beginning, that this book was going to be nothing but High School Love Story, and that I was going to get bored. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case. This book was the opposite of instalove. The relationship builds gradually and realistically. The teens are smart and aware of how their actions affect other people.
And, of course, there’s more going on in this book than the love story. I’d say the plot mostly revolves around their families and their differences. The story has a dark side, and just flipping through the first few chapters, I found so many instances of foreshadowing. I had an idea of how things were going to turn out; it was a nice pay-off when I found out I was right. The hints were subtle enough that I was doubting my own intuition up until the end.
Beautiful. They sound like teenagers. The POV changes are smooth and often funny or ironic.
My copy (B&N’
s Exclusive Collector’s Edition) had about four typos in it, where words were left out, and there was one line of dialogue (which I couldn’t find again when I looked for it) that didn’t make sense in context.
All handled with grace. This book deals with teenage insecurity, poverty, abuse, and broken families. Like I said, it can be uncomfortable to read. For anyone who has experienced these things firsthand, it could be triggering/upsetting. Give yourself some time to emotionally digest it.
Who Would I Recommend This To?
Anyone who has ever been in love. Especially if you were too young to know what love is.