Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Posted by Caitie F on May 16, 2013
Summary from publisher:
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 have wanted to read this book for months, so when my copy came in at the library, i was really excited. I liked this book, but I didn’t love it. More on that in a bit.
Eleanor is a character than many teens can relate to. She doesn’t have much and she has to struggle with the teasing and the feelings she has about it every day. She has a horrible home life and an abusive stepfather. I would ope that teens couldn’t relate to her, but I know there are many that can relate to that part of her story. Her life is far from perfect, but it feels very real. I like that it shows that there are real problems in the world. I also like the friends she makes at school – they don’t take crap from people and are a good contrast to the rich around them. I wish Eleanor had been closer with them, but could understand why she couldn’t. She broke my heart and I shed some tears for this fictional character.
I also adored Park’s parents. Were they always right? Not at all. They were both not always very nice, but they loved him and were very good people once they got the situation. When Park’s dad tells Eleanor that the invitation for dinner is always open, he was redeemed for not understanding his son. His mother was also very understanding when she got what was going on. His family was so interesting because they were such a blend in a time when it was less often. It made me get him a little more.
Rainbow Rowell knows how to write a fantastic book. I will continue to read her books because it is easy to get lost in the book and the characters. The pop culture references were integrated that they felt organic and not like they were references to be trendy. The tackles horrible issues head=on, but isn’t an issue book, it is a book about people dealing with issues so it means more. It was almost the perfect book.
Yet I didn’t buy Park. Park at the end is very different from Park at the beginning. It felt like he was whoever was needed at the time. One friends said she thought Eleanor made Park be more himself and I can see it interpreted that way, it was just different than what I saw. It may be that way because I think Elanor was just Eleanor and it felt like he had many sides to his personality. He was also a really shitty friend – and didn’t even care that he was – once he started spending time with Eleanor and that always pisses me off.
It is still a very good book and I look forward to reading her next one!