by Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: February 26th 2013
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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 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.
Eleanor was right: She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn't supposed to look nice; it was suposed to make you feel something.
- Eleanor and Park, pg 165
If there was one word I would use to describe Eleanor and Park it would be bittersweet. This story is absolutely heartbreaking, beautiful, and just plain cute. Rainbow Rowell definitely tears out your heart, rips it into a million little pieces, and then tries to put it all back together again.
Eleanor is different. She's big and bold, but not in the way that earns her a lot of admirers. Park on the other hand tries to blend in, but stands out thanks to his mixed race heritage. Both are misfits, and both are perfect for each other.
Eleanor and Park is a love story. There really isn't much more to it, but even so I enjoyed it and it's minimalistic plot. In a sea of insta-love stories, Eleanor and Park stands out because the romance grows so organically. Through comic books and mix tapes, phone calls and family dinners their relationship slowly comes together and forms something beautiful. It feels real, and that's what makes this story so strong.
Eleanor and Park themselves were both fantastic characters and I loved getting to delve into who they were and what made them tick. Rainbow Rowell did an outstanding job creating these two. They're funny, insightful, and just so human. They have quirks and personality and feel like real people, not just words on a page. Oh and Park is half Korean so he's a total winner in my book. Lucky girl that Eleanor. ;)
One really unique and interesting aspect of this novel is the fact that it's set in 1986. For readers who are 80's kids this will totally bring back the nostalgia of their youth, but for the rest of us it's sort of a crazy time warp, back into a world that wasn't too long ago and yet feels almost completely alien. Cassette tapes? Calling someone on their home phone? No internet? WHAT IS THIS MADNESS?!?! One of the most interesting aspects of Eleanor and Park is that even though technology changes, people and relationships don't. Some elements of Eleanor and Park may not be relatable to a younger crowd, but we can still read and enjoy the story because there are certain universal human experiences such as love and friendship that remain the same regardless of the era.
Overall I really liked Eleanor and Park. I must admit that I didn't connect with the story or characters quite as much as I wanted to (maybe because I'm not an 80's kid?) but I still loved it and I think everyone should give it a read. It's a sweet and insightful romance that will touch even the most pessimistic of readers *cough* like me *cough*.
Oh and funny story, for some crazy reason I totally thought that Rainbow Rowell was a boy. Maybe it was because a lot of reviews kept comparing Eleanor and Park to John Green novels, but regardless when I discovered the author was actually a girl I was in total shock. Basically the books back cover fell open to reveal Rainbow Rowell's picture and my face was like this:
Awkward but true.
Sorry Rainbow Rowell. :P