ELEANOR & PARK
By: Rainbow Rowell
Published: February 26, 2013 by St. Martin's Press
Genres: YA • Historical Time Period (1980's) • Realistic • Abuse • High School • Contemporary Fiction • Romance
Technically 4.8 rounded to 5
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.
Break out the grooves because this book deserves a happy touchdown dance....
I hadn't been so excited about a book in a while! The funny thing was that I had no idea I would like it nearly as much as I did. The speed of the book gradually increased until close to the end. Then BAM! WOW. Holy Crap Hitting The Fan, Batman! That slap in the face made for some FAN-FLIPPING-TASTIC reading! Boo Ya!
I had no issues with grammar, spelling or typos. The plot was phenomenal. Simple yet complex, rich and meaty, doused liberally with historical references, delectably real and agonizingly truthful, ELEANOR & PARK was everything a great novel should be. Park and Eleanor were typical teens, yet she had all the added burdens of her family life and her weight. As someone who is overweight myself, I grieved with her when others taunted her. Suffering through the nine layers of hell that is called high school is bad enough, but top that with not having a toothbrush and enough feminine pads? Rowell transported us into a frightening new undiscovered pit of hell. She felt like a freak with her hair, weight, lack of necessities and her family. Eleanor put on a brave face but felt each dig keenly.
Park didn't have so much drama with his classmates or his financial situation. His lay with his Dad's expectations. Haven't we all been there? The parent who loves us, but was (or is) constantly disappointed in you because you aren't what they want you to be? You're the tech geek when they wanted a quarterback. You're the music fan when they wanted a math whiz. You get the idea.
Rowell not only described this phenomena, she grabbed us by the collar and dragged us in, completely submerging us into the story until we became completely absorbed. Honestly, I felt like it was happening to me. Words fail to describe my utter contentment and excitement! Fabulous writing!
The ending was very climactic. Even though I should have seen it coming, it was still a shocker. The pace had been building through the book and went into overdrive toward the end. It not only tugged on my heart, it ripped it out with a dull spoon.
Their pains were exquisite torture and their joys were incredible highs. As someone who grew up in the 80's, I appreciated all the references.... especially the music. I love many of the artists mentioned and those mentions added yet another wonderful layer to the overall story. Park and Eleanor's love story was so organic and real. It was tangible and relatable. It wasn't over-the-top drama or full of "animal-in-heat-to-the-point-it's pure-fantasy" sex scenes. It almost seemed like we were reading someone's diary. Their struggles were so common, yet they were written in a unique way.
I must break out the minions. This was a delectable novel full of thought provoking ideas but yet readable to the normal human being. Gritty yet smooth and edited to perfection, ELEANOR & PARK is one you MUST put on your reading list! Bravo Rainbow Rowell. My only request? Make a sequel! I love these characters too much to only get to read them in one novel! Well done!