Friday, January 31, 2014

Book review: Eleanor and Park

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Description from Amazon (below) can be found here, and more reviews can be found on GoodreadsAdd me on Goodreads!

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.

I loved this book, and I think the reason I loved it immediately is because it is (at least starts as) a VERY realistic high school love story.

The characters are not supernatural, super beautiful, or a nerd lusting after the most popular (or vice versa).

They don't love each other immediately. (They don't even like each other immediately.)

The plot is, for the most part, filled with extremely plausible events that could and actually would happen.

But still, I found myself so swept up in this story. It had me feeling all the feelings and thinking about the book even when I wasn't reading it. 

I highly recommend Eleanor and Park! I gave it four stars and put Rainbow Rowell's book Fangirl on hold at the library immediately after I finished reading E&P.

PS - I listened to Eleanor and Park on audio and I LOVED it. I'm sure it's good in book form too -- and to be honest, Park's voice was just OK, but Eleanor's voice reminded me of slam poetry. It was beautifully read. Good one if you're looking to start listening to audio!

EDITED TO ADD. Since reading E&P the first time, I have stumbled on some commentary regarding the way Park and his mother are written and the racial implications. You can see an example here, although that is not the only discussion I have read.

This is problematic enough to temper my view of the book. I am privileged in ways that meant the way race is described in E&P didn't resonate with me initially. I'm lucky in that I stumbled on posts from thoughtful, intelligent people who could help me understand their feelings when reading about Park and his mother. I can't imagine reading the book if I had identified more with Park's struggles with his racial identity. I still believe this is a realistic love story, and it still made me have lots of feelings. But there is something problematic in the way Park and his mother's race and their relationship to others in light of their race is handled, and I don't think that should go unacknowledged.

Have any of you read Eleanor and Park? What did you think?


Katrin said...

I have only heard good things about this book! Have to check it out! Thanks for the review!

Anonymous said...

I actually just got this on audio from the library yesterday. Excited to listen to it soon--glad you liked it! :)

Meghan said...

I am so glad you reviewed this, I was going back and forth on buying it at work, and I may have to sneak in and get it now :)


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