Release Date: February 26, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 328 pages
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.
In the next few weeks, there will be a few guest post reviews from friends of this blog. First one up is from a dear friend of mine named Nikki. Here's her review of Eleanor & Park!
There are books out there that you read, enjoy, and then move on. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell is not one of those. I’m not saying it was a bad book, actually the opposite. It is so captivating and moving that it stays with you; at least in my case it did. There aren’t many books that I can say I’ve read in a day and wanted to reread over and over but this was one of them. I started it on my way to work and didn’t put it down until I finished around midnight. It was just that good.
Eleanor & Park tells the story about first love and how it can be exciting, all consuming, scary and different. It shows how that love could be perfect to you but to everyone else strange. Omaha 1986 is where we find Eleanor, 16, the new girl at school and she already has some strikes against her. She isn’t the average cheerleader type. She wears strange hand-me down clothes, she isn’t thin and she has wild red hair. Park, also 16, is the half Korean kid who is slightly different from his classmates and even family, just trying to survive high-school with as few scars as possible. For me, I pictured a chunky Molly Ringwald and John Cusack from Say Anything.
With awkward beginnings on a school bus, Eleanor and Park start an odd friendship and infatuation with each other. Even with all the butterflies that their romance causes, there is more to these characters. Eleanor is cloaked in mystery from the beginning and what Rainbow does so beautifully is reveal her dark home life like a budding flower, petal by petal. And if Eleanor’s life is dark, Park’s would definitely be the light. His father and Korean mother provide an example of how two people from two completely different backgrounds could find love and make it work.
If I wasn’t swooning at how intense Eleanor and Park felt for each other, ““I don’t like you, Park,” she said, sounding for a second like she actually meant it. “I…” –her voice nearly disappeared- “think I live for you.””; I was laughing my ass off at something Park’s mother had said or done, ““Fighting!” she said, stabbing her index finger into his chest. “Fighting life white-trash dumb monkey…””
Rainbow didn’t shy away from the different when it came to this book. Having the main characters not look like the norm or ignore the fact that there were minorities in the town, spoke volumes. Her characters were relatable and the story was timeless. This could have easily been a story about two teens in this decade and instead of mixtapes and albums, there could be mp3s and iPods and it would still mean the same.
If you are a fan of 80’s movies and have a soft spot for the underdog, then this story is for you. This book made me fall in love with love in a way that I wasn’t expecting. I was recommended this book to read by many friends and here I am paying it forward.