Title: Eleanor & Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: February 26, 2013
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.
Before adding this book to my TBR list, I had read a glowing review about it, although I forget who actually wrote it. However, when I first picked up the book, I couldn’t imagine why I would read it. The cover wasn’t thrilling, the summary didn’t intrigue me very much, and even the title only tugged a little at my curiosity. But when I started reading, I could not put it down. In just a few short hours, Eleanor and Park were as real to me as the pages I was turning, perhaps even more so. I got so caught up in their personalities and stories that I staved off sleep until the wee hours of the morning. Needless to say, it was amazing.
It was a perfect fit for it’s genre – contemporary – and the writing style was fantastic. It actually reminded me of Beth Fantaskey’s Jekel Loves Hyde with it’s alternating POVs for each chapter, which consisted of brief sections of the same scene, or sometimes they got a whole scene to themselves. I loved how even though looking at a page, it might seem choppy, it actually flowed very nicely and the story was smooth and seamless.
That’s not to say that there wasn’t some mystery or suspense. Waiting for the climax, or not knowing what the other character was thinking, made me crazy at points, especially since the other characters in the book were mostly ignored and Eleanor and Park were (obviously) the main focus. Normally, this would annoy me, but Rowell pulls it off in this book wonderfully, and it fits not only the title, but the story as well. Two teens coming of age together – it’s fitting that the other characters are mostly background noise. That being said, I really liked Park’s family – how they were written and just them in general. They weren’t perfect, but they loved each other and made it work. It was very realistic. Unfortunately, so was Eleanor’s family. Brokenness is just as realistic, and they were also written very well.
I liked how this book wasn’t clichéd. Every time I thought something cliché was going to happen, the book suddenly took a swerve to avoid it, but it was so subtle you didn’t even realize that the expected cliché never came. Eleanor isn’t tall, thin, and popular. In fact, she’s pretty much the opposite. She never claims to be perfect, and neither does Park, and it’s obvious from the writing that they’re not, but they are still loveable characters in spite – or perhaps because – of this. It was more realistic and less fantastical.
Something else that probably led me to believe this is the ending. Again, not a cliché. Not expected. A little anticlimactic, but a good ending, although I didn’t necessarily like it as much as the rest of the book. However, I would still highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a touching, heartfelt, and realistic read – it is not for anyone wanting to escape the real world for a while. I hope you pick up a copy soon!
*Note: I do not recommend this book to anyone under the age of 15 due to profanity and sexual content.