Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Book Review: Eleanor & Park


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Eleanor & Park
Published by: St. Martin's Press
Release date: Feb. 26, 2013
Genre: YA contemporary
328 pages
Source: purchased by reviewer



Books like this make me consider asking my blog partners about creating a 6 birdie graphic and titling it "Every Home Should Have A Copy."

To be honest, I didn't intend to love this book. I didn't even really plan to read it; I went to an event to see one author, and Rainbow Rowell happened to be there as well. I knew her book was fairly popular, so I decided to buy a copy so I could have it signed. I brought it home, thinking that I would get to it eventually. I got ahead in my reading, and since I had enjoyed hearing the author so much, I decided to try a few pages. That's all it took for me to be irrevocably sucked in.


I connected to this book in a lot more ways than I expected. In 1986, I was about the same age as these characters- so I have vivid images of the world they live in, the attached-to-the-wall phones they use, and the music they listen to. I was there. I still have a few mix tapes stashed away in my basement. Eleanor is from a family who barely scrapes by; my family had a few years like this. She gets good grades, as did I. Eleanor is a big girl with wild curly hair; again, totally me. I've lived my whole life a few hours from Omaha, where the book is set. I mean, really, I even once dated a boy whose mother was from southeast Asia and whose father was in the military. Freaky, right?

I am convinced, however, that a reader need not have any of these connections to the book to think it fabulous. At its core, Eleanor & Park is about a girl who believes that she doesn't deserve a boy like Park, and about a boy who is willing to go to any length to make Eleanor smile. They become the center of each others' universe, as happens with that first, all-consuming love. The differences between their families, their finances, and their skin color mean nothing compared to the depth of their devotion to each other. Anyone who has been there will fall in love with this story.

The richness of the language in this book is extraordinary. Rowell avoids sappy, trite dialogue, favoring internal monologue and description of body language and facial expression rather than force her characters to try to express feelings that are too big to be contained in words. In the few instances where they verbalize their emotions, they choose expressions that are both genuine and painfully honest. It is refreshing to hear from characters who are accustomed to using language sparingly, yet have so much to say.

In writing this review, I've picked the book up several times to look at spots I've marked. Each time I do, I lose several minutes and turn several pages- and I'm right back there with Eleanor and Park, reliving it all. I invite you to take that journey with them as well. It will reawaken memories, and possibly rekindle dreams you've left behind with childhood. Maybe we shouldn't leave all of those dreams behind after all.

Summary:


Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK 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.




20 comments:

  1. I loved loved loved this one! I would really love to teach it as well. I keep letting my coworkers borrow it and just picked up "Fangirl" to read over Thanksgiving break.

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    1. I'm with you: Fangirl will be top of my list, should I receive gift cards this holiday season. Rowell needs to write faster!

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  2. I seen many reviews, majority awesome, and yet your last paragraph was what spoke to me the most. That you keep going back and reliving it.... powerful!
    Awesome review!

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    1. Thanks, fredamans! Even months later, I'll get sucked back into this book if I pick it up. And it begs me to. :)

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  3. I've been told this is a really good book! Next paycheck is going towards books!!

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  4. This is one I keep hearing great things about. I love your review of it. It makes it sound like a great reread book as well.

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  5. Awwww! This novel sounds buckets full of sweet! I am so looking forward to it!

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  6. A beautiful book, so cute and lovely, Need read fangirl too

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    1. Sounds good. First love when found in HS is a powerful, overwhelming, beautiful but dangerous thing.

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  7. I've been meaning to read this for awhile!! Glad to her you enjoyed it :)

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  8. It's that great huh? I've seen a lot of good reviews on this book and I admit, I'm one of those book cover people where the more I like the cover, the more I want to read it. This cover didn't draw me in but your review did.

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  9. I love how it's an unconventional romance in a different decade - it was a gutsy move on the author's part.

    I love what you said about the dialogue being genuine and how feelings are expressed in different ways.

    Lovely review :)

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  10. I'll put this in my tbr list. I got a loooong list now. I'm excited to witness the two story between these two, cute misfits. I hope I'll get to love this one. Though you really didn't intend to love this, you did. Nice one :)

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  11. oh, gosh. I really need to read one of Rainbow Rowell's books soon.
    Great review!

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  12. Yes, this book should be read by everyone! I loved it. You're right -- you're bound to relive memories of your own past when reading it.

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