Eleanor & Park – Rainbow Rowell
“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 sixteen.”
“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, 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
As many of you know, I am extremely picky when it comes to contemporary books. In order to make me fall head over heels in love, the book must contain witty and relatable characters, a beautiful romance that slowly progresses, heartbreaking scenes, and intense topics. Lucky for me, Eleanor & Park contained all of that.
The best thing about Eleanor & Park was Eleanor. Eleanor lived in a house with an abusive stepfather, a coward of a mother, and four little siblings that knew when to hide and to keep their mouths shut. She had barely any personal possessions, washed her hair with dish soap, did not own a toothbrush, had weight problems, and dressed like a homeless hippy on a daily basis. There are not enough words to describe Eleanor, but if I had to try I would use words such as brave, strong, lovable, independent, remarkable and beautiful. She was my favorite character in the whole book, and I honestly could just read about her all day long.
This book has so. many. feels. I laughed out loud. I cried. I bawled. I smiled. I cringed. There were even times I wanted to throw the book clear across the room. Thankfully it was on my nook, and I have more control than that. I haven’t cried over a book since the last Harry Potter, but I was an emotional basketcase almost from the very beginning. The first time I cried was when Park’s mother realized what kind of homelife Eleanor came from. Reading about his mom breaking down broke me down completely. The second and last time I cried was when Park’s dad opened up to Eleanor and basically told her she was a part of the family. Reading about Eleanor’s homelife was tragic and depressing, but reading about Park’s parents caring enough about her to do something about it was an entire different level for me.
Park and Eleanor’s relationship was just so adorable. They were snarky, hesitant, in love, crazy, and just teenagers. I felt like both characters really grew as the story progressed, which made their relationship more mature and romantic.
I would have rated this book 5 stars, but I had to dock it down to a 4 for a few reasons. Let’s start with Park. I found Park to be a good character, but he really grated on my nervous…especially during the last half of the book. I found him to be a little controlling, a little dumb in the girl department, and wayyyy needy. Also, I know that teenagers spout off the words “I love you” like they really know what they mean, but he got on my last nerve every time he said it. I also didn’t like how he accused Eleanor of bullying herself and making things up. I think it was at that point that I really started to despise his character.
Eleanor’s mom made it really difficult to stick with the book at times. I have no respect for any woman who lets a man beat her up and terrorize her kids. It’s one thing if you’re by yourself, but when you have 5 kids it is your responsibility to woman up and get yourself and your children out of a horrible situation and homelife. The mom absolutely disgusted me.
Most of all, I had a problem with the ending of the book. I was not a fan of the ending. I read this book and fell in love with the story and the characters, and then the ending just plummeted. Not only that, but the ending left a lot of questions, and I don’t think that this is a series. What happened to the mom and the kids? Did they ever reunite with Eleanor? What became of Eleanor and Park later on? What happened to the step father? On one hand, this ending is perfect because the reader can decide what happens. But I’m not the type of reader who can finish a book and then make those decisions. So the only thing that’s going through my head is the ending that Rowell provided, and I don’t like it.
Overall, I found Eleanor & Park to be a beautiful read. It swept me off my feet and twisted me all over the place as emotion after emotion blindsided me. Eleanor & Park’s relationship is one for the records, and I hope to read more about them in the future. Fans of Catherine by April Lindner will really enjoy this one!
Publication Date: February 26th, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Teaser Quote: “Nothing before you counts,” he said. “And I can’t even imagine an after.”
She shook her head. “Don’t.”
“Don’t talk about after.”
“I just meant that… I want to be the last person who ever kisses you, too…. That sounds bad, like a death threat or something. What I’m trying to say is, you’re it. This is it for me.”