Sunday, June 2, 2013

Book Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Release Date: February 26, 2013
Publisher: St. Martins Press
Source: Library


"Bono met his wife in high school," Park says.
"So did Jerry Lee Lewis," Eleanor answers.
"I’m not kidding," he says.
"You should be," she says, "we’re sixteen."
"What about Romeo and Juliet?"
"Shallow, confused, then dead."
''I love you," Park says.
"Wherefore art thou," Eleanor answers.
"I’m not kidding," he says.
"You should be."

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.
(courtesy of Goodreads)

My Review

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell is one of those rare gems in Contemporary YA. The genre is filled with fun reads, which isn't bad if you want a light read, but sometimes you want something a little more serious. Eleanor & Park is the story of two people who don't feel like they belong in the world they live in but find where they belong in each other. It stands out as among all those light reads by tackling some tough issues without being preachy or trite. It has been a while since I read a book that resonated with me as deeply as Eleanor & Park did.

Let me start off by saying this is not your typical high school romance story. There is no love at first sight, there is no love triangle, there is no playing hard to get or chase. Eleanor and Park's relationship develops quietly without any fanfare. What starts out as a grudging offer of a bus seat from Park on Eleanor's first day of school blooms into a friendship based on comic books and music that grows into a such a loving relationship that most adults have yet to find. 

Eleanor and Park aren't typical high school students. Eleanor isn't your typical heroine of a love story. She represents the part of us that feels awkward and weird and right outside the boundaries of "normal". Park isn't the star quarter back of the football team. He is the inner nerd in all of us loves music and can't wait to get his hands on the newest comic book. They defy the stereotypes and cliches of a high school couple. Through Rowell's beautiful characterization, both of these characters teach us that, while it can be difficult to be that person who is different from the rest of the crowd, we are not alone.

Their relationship isn't perfect but because of the truth and beauty of their relationship you just root for it to work out. You want it to work. There have never been two people who are more meant for each other than Eleanor and Park. What make it so real is that the story doesn't try to take us away from reality but rather lets us see the beauty that can be there even when it seems like our lives are falling apart. 

There were time when I just had to put down the book to be able to absorb everything that was happening. And of course I picked it right back up again because I didn't want to spend a second away from them. The characters brought this story to life and through her words Rowell brought these characters to us, the readers. Overall, Eleanor & Park is a stunning book that shows us both the pain and beauty that of first love can bring.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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