RERUN Reviews: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

RERUN Reviews: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow RowellEleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Published by St. Martin's Griffin February 26, 2013
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 328
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon US
Goodreads

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.

Rerun Reviews features reviews by Debbie, previously published on Keep Calm Read Romance or Talk Supe — and reviews by Ali previously published on GingerRead Reviews.

 

When I received the review request from St. Martin’s Press, as I always do,
I popped over to Goodreads and Amazon to read the synopsis and take a closer
look at the author. Had I gone by the blurb on Goodreads (the one shown above),
I may have passed this book up.  It was what I saw on Amazon that had me
anxious to read Eleanor & Park:
 
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 16.

 

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, this 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.
 
It was the banter between these two that I found intriguing.  Plus, I
am a product of the eighties…if I thought I could get away with it, I would
probably still where my hair in some ridiculous angular cut.  Okay, not
really but you will still find me lovingly listening to “new wave”
music while I clean my house.  Anyway, what I’m saying is the book seamed
like something I would like.
 
I was wrong.
 
This book is something that I loved.
 
When I read on my Kindle, I highlight all the bits I want to remember for
when I write my review.  There are usually a handful.  If you peak at
my Eleanor & Park file there is yellow all over the place.  There is
so much good stuff here, it has it all.
 
Eleanor has a rough life and that is putting it mildly.  After a year
of couch surfing she’s brought back home to live with her mother, her four
younger siblings and her creeper stepfather.  She has to share a room with
all her brothers and sisters, there is no door on the bathroom, almost all of
her possessions were thrown out while she was gone and her mother can’t even
remember to buy Eleanor her own toothbrush.  To say she is an awkward
outcast with fluffy red hair and a ridiculous wardrobe would be an
understatement.
 
Park is the only (half) Asian kid in the area.  He’s not sure where he
fits in and no one else really seems to know either.  He’s not a pariah at
school but he is somewhat on the outskirts of the ‘in crowd’ and is careful to
not be completely pushed to the outer limits.
 
This unlikely pair is forced to sit together on the bus but don’t talk or
acknowledge each other for weeks. Yet a relationship, a bond, forms between
them that is undeniable and utterly heart oozing sweet.  When they first
interact and become more than two strangers simultaneously riding a bus, watch
out because all the warm fuzzies will be spreading from your ears to your
toes.  The first hand holding is to die for cute.
 
Holding Eleanor’s hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like
holding something complete and completely alive.
 
If you’ve ever wondered what that feels like, it’s a lot like melting
– but more violent.
 
As the relationship develops, so do the insecurities that Eleanor and Park
both harbor and so do the secrets of Eleanor’s home life and struggle with
girls at school.  It is the love that these two feel for each other that
carry them through each day and living without each other becomes something of
an impossibility. 
 
The exchanges between these two is nothing less than adorable and their
inner monologues are even better.
 
She sat completely still because she didn’t have any other option. She tried
to remember what kind of animals paralyzed their prey before they ate them…
Maybe Park had paralyzed her with his ninja magic, his Vulcan handhold, and now
he was going to eat her.  That would be awesome.
 
This started out as such a quirky and fun story, I often found myself
giggling aloud.  As the story became more intimate and serious, it began
to tug at my heart and with one absolute ‘mom moment’, I was reduced to
tears.  Not something I do regularly with books.
 
I won’t lie and tell you this a super feel good HEA type of book.  It
has many super feel good moments but the crux of the story is more profound and
questions the power of love – what it makes you do – and what you are willing
to give up to hold on to it.
 
Now, I have recently berated a book for having an untidy ending. 
Eleanor & Park’s ending leaves a lot to the imagination as well. But, I
think this ending works and I’ll explain why.
 
First, this is a standalone book. I have not invested hours upon hours
developing deep emotions for the story, nor have I spent years waiting and
wondering what is going to happen next and how it is going to end. 
Second, these are teens experiencing their first love, the kind of love that
your heart hurts when you are away from the person for an hour. The type of love
that stays with you in your heart forever, even if the relationship itself
doesn’t last. When you’re young you think everything will last forever and
always be as perfect as it is now. It’s not reality. Life gets in the way,
growth gets in the way.  In my head, this ending was reminiscent of that
sort of love and it was quite fitting.  Others may not agree.
 
I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a first love, somewhat
coming of age type story or someone like me who loves the nostalgic feelings
that can’t help but surface when reading about young love in the age of your
own teen years. 

 

Miss Ali - Transparent


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