Friday, July 10, 2015

Book Review: Eleanor & Park

Title: Eleanor & Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Published: February 26, 2013 by St. Martin's Press
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Format: Hardcover
Source: Book Outlet
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.

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(Warning: Review may contain spoilers!)

Eleanor & Park is definitely the second most-hyped Rainbow Rowell book, and that's basically the first reason as to why I picked this book up when I went shopping. It has gathered so many good and negative reviews that I just wanted to see what the talk is all about. This being the third Rowell book I have managed to pick up this year, I was expecting to engage in a fun and lighthearted story of two high school misfits falling in love at a young age. I was bracing myself for all the fluffiness, the cheesy exchanges of the words I love you, and possibly a happy-ever-after. But, of course, young love has never been meant to last forever . . . Right?

Eleanor & Park first bonded over music and comic books. I am a big fan of music—Duh! Who isn't?—but specifically the kind of music you don't usually hear on the Top 40. I loved this particular concept because as I read about Park showing Eleanor his music—The Smiths, Joy Division, U2, et cetera—I really feel like I can relate. I can feel what they feel as they voice out each of their commentaries about a certain song. And when Rowell mentioned classic rock artists such as AC/DC, Zeppelin, Bon Jovi, Sex Pistols . . . Oh, I was instantly sold. The comic books are also a guaranteed plus because I absolutely adore comic books. Although X-Men isn't really my most favorite, reading about Eleanor and Park bonding over comic books still managed to make my heart flutter warmly. In a book, there is nothing better than being able to personally connect to a character or characters.

Rowell has wowed me once again with just how much she has accurately grasped the contemporary world. And because of this, she's created a lot of realistic characters that anyone can actually find in today's world. We've got a neglectful parent, a brutal stepfather, disapproving parents; bullying, rebelling, underage drinking, drugs. And the issue about body image as well. Rowell wrote off Eleanor not as a skinny and seemingly perfect teenager, but as a sixteen-year-old who still has a few lumpy parts in her physique . . . which is frankly normal for someone her age.

Furthermore, Rowell's physical description of Eleanor only proves the true power of love. I particularly love this because in such a judgmental place like high school—let's be honest here—teenagers are being poisoned by this idea that you have to look a certain way in order to find love. The story of Eleanor and Park counters that beautifully. And reading about imperfect people falling with one another's flaws is truly a heartwarming sensation.

The only drawback for me is how irritable some of the characters are. As I was reading the book, all that I ever wanted was to snap my fingers in front of the characters' faces to pull them out of their daze and give them some sort of lecture about standing up for themselves. These characters are so vexingly weak that I felt like they badly needed some legitimate wake-up call.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell is one young adult novel that will surely release all of your captive butterflies from the cheesiness that is our main characters, but at the same time, it will also clench your emotions like a rag doll at the same time. I have stumbled upon books that have unforgivably tore my heart, but this one is just so . . . I literally felt my heart sank when I read the end of the book. Eleanor & Park is a definite recommendation to those of you who enjoy reading about unexpected romances and heartbreaking-ever-afters.

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Rainbow Rowell writes books. Some of her titles include LandlineEleanor & ParkFangirl, and Attachments. When she's not writing, Rainbow is reading comic books, planning Disney World trips and arguing about things that don't really matter in the big scheme of things. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska with her husband and two sons.

✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖

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