Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: St Martin's Press on February 26, 2013
Genre(s): Contemporary Fiction (YA), Contemporary Romance (YA)
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.
Well. I don’t quite know what to make of this book. I definitely did not enjoy it as much as Fangirl. To be honest, Eleanor annoyed the crap out of me. Don’t get me wrong, I felt bad for her. She lived in an uber-shitty situation. Abusive step-father, Ritchie, a mother who won’t see that her bad decisions are running her family, poor as dirt, gets picked on because she’s not the size of a toothpick. I get that she was having a hard time (trust me, I get it) and I sympathize and yet…she still bugged me. Cleary I’m heartless.
Park also irritated me but not as much. His wishy-washy feelings about Eleanor in the beginning are the main cause of my annoyance but he gets over those feelings and so do I.
The book was cute. Eleanor is the new girl that stands out with her bright red hair, Goodwill clothes, and non-size 4 body. (To be honest, I feel like she wasn’t as big as she felt like she was, which is a fairly typical feeling for a 16 year old girl that’s not rail thin. I pictured her in my head with a bit of baby fat. Especially after Park’s dad made the comment “with a name like Big Red, I though she’d be bigger). She deals with bullies at school and her bully step-dad at home. She’s smart as hell and just as sarcastic.
Park is mortified by her at first. The half-Asian, half-Irish kid who is exotic enough to be liked by the cool kids. Plus his dad is from the neighborhood, his mom is hot and she does hair for all the girls around the area. He listens to punk music and other bands the kids in his school have yet to hear of.
Park is forced to share his seat with Eleanor on the bus. He hates it, hopes that no one makes fun of him for it. He prays she won’t’ talk to him. Until he notices that she’s reading his comics over his shoulder. It starts out with Park just sharing a few comics and then some mixed tapes (god love mix tapes! Did anyone fall in love in the 80’s/90’s without the help of mix tapes?!) and then conversations and then love.
However, Ritchie doesn’t allow Eleanor to…well just have friends in general. They have to keep their relationship hidden. She spends a lot of time over a Park’s house once he gets the nerve to introduce her to his parents.
And it’s some super sweet, no holds barred teenage love. They can’t breathe without each other type stuff. Park even gets into a fight over her.
It is set in the 80’s, back when people were more open about their casual racism (Park gets called “Asian kid” a lot and one of the bullies asks him about Kung Fu) If that bothers you I suggest you skip the novel. Park also seemed to have some gender and sexuality confusion which I wish would have been explored more.
The ending though, that’s where this book really lost me. It one of those open ended things that authors seem to think is clever but which actually pisses off most of the readers I know.
I say read this book for the hell of it, almost everyone has read it already anyway but personally, I’m glad I started out with Fangirl or I might have skipped Rowell’s books after this one. It just didn’t reach me.