Thursday, May 29, 2014

Weekly Book Review: Eleanor & Park

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Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell 
Released: February 26, 2013
Genre: Young Adult


"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."

[from Goodreads.]


Oscillating between cute and heartbreaking, sometimes within the same page, Eleanor & Park is a romance, but it isn't just a romance. It's the story of two teens from different sides of the track, with problems of varying intensity intruding on their comic book and mixtape built relationship. Eleanor faces an actively abusive stepfather and a mother too beat down to do anything about it. Park's problems are lighter by comparison—his father disapproves of his less-than-manly hobbies and appearance, while his mother disapproves of Eleanor—but enough to make his life less comfortable than it should be. Eleanor & Park doesn't shame Park for having an easier life than Eleanor, nor does it insinuate that his problems are insignificant just because they aren't as bad as hers. This is an unbiased look at two very different, intersecting lives.

Eleanor & Park tackles some heavy stuff, and it doesn't pull any punches. This book is in no way concerned with preserving its readers' feelings. It'll hit you hard, and it'll hit you often, with surprising intensity. The adorable cover fooled me into thinking I was getting something light and comfortable. This is not the case.

This is a slow book to start. It takes its time in setting up the characters and establishing their relationships. It's a pace that works well, however, as Eleanor and Park are similarly slow in warming up to each other. The two take small steps in reaching their destination, and it's satisfying to see them finally come together.

Of the books I've read since starting at the library, this is probably my favorite. Recommended for everyone but the most romance-allergic.

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