Book Review: ELEANOR and PARK

Calling you all YA literature lovers and die-hard fanatics! Here’s another book that would simply steal your heart and take your breath away!

ELEANOR and PARK

by

Rainbow Rowell

Released Date: February 26,2013

The Book

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 16.
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, 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. (from Amazon)

The Characters

Eleanor – New girl in school. Overweight(she thinks she is), with fiery red and frizzy curly hair. Wears extremely mismatched hand-me-down clothes from Goodwill. Sleeps in the top bunk with the cat in a room she shares with her four younger siblings and lives in a tiny house with a door-less bathroom with her mom and an alcoholic-punk stepdad. She is the favorite subject of the bitchy-bullies in school who called her ugly names. That first day on the bus, everyone else looked at her with disgust, made unsolicited ugly remarks and no one would offer her a seat. Except Park.

Park- He offered the strange, new girl the seat beside his at the bus. Not out of full will but he did it anyway. Park is half-Korean in a mostly-white part of town, and is into alternative music and comic books, unlike his brother and dad who are into sports. He took taekwondo classes since he was young and is currently mastering his driving skills. They have an ideal loving family who lives next door to his cool and loving grandparents who always left their doors unlocked.

Applause!!!

According to John Green, “Eleanor & Park  reminded me not just what it’s like to be young and in love with a girl, but also what it’s like to be young and in love with a book.” This statement made me search for this book and took interest with it. I agree with him but not on the part of being young and in love with a girl but more on being in love with a book. Rainbow Rowell has cleverly created funny, relatable(and imperfect) characters. I didn’t grow up in a rich and abundant upbringing but not as difficult as Eleanor’s family is. Broke and penniless not even for a toothbrush, but, the author successfully shifted my mind to feel what it is like to be in Eleanor’s shoes. Normally, I like the bad-ass, effortlessly-fit heroines and heroes. Eleanor and Park on the other hand were none of those except when Park got suspended by getting into fight using his taekwondo skills defending Eleanor from the bad kids on the bus and declared to the rest of the world that she is his girlfriend. It is so sweet, cute and very heroic-knight-in-shining-armor kind of thing. Since this is supposed to be in a setting of year 1986, (very uncommon for a YA novel), XMEN were still the “in” thing and not anime or avengers. Through Park’s XMEN comic books which they share-reading in silence at the bus ride, slowly, these two individuals develop a relationship that is formed around stuff like reading comics together and exchanging mix tapes. And other totally cool nerdy things like music groups, Walkman batteries, Star Wars and Shakespeare. Could it get any cuter than that? The progression from awkward bus partners/seatmates to friendship was so natural in the story. As a reader, I totally connected with the characters on  how they look forward to sitting with each other at the bus ride. I have the widest-ten-inches smile when Park dared to hold Eleanor’s hand.

According to Park;

“Holding Eleanor’s hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like holding something complete, and completely alive.”

According to Me;

To touch someone you are not related to and feel that way is not only being born to love but also born live for that particular someone(wink-wink).

I can’t summarize the book in one word. I think its adorable. I like the fresh and subtle attack on first-love romance. I like the description of Eleanor’s look as it takes my imagination to a higher lever so I can picture her in my mind. I can laugh with the emphasis on Park’s Korean Mom’s pronunciations with her Korean accent. I like how the story’s complications are inserted and collaborated. I like the book’s cover, because it gives a little yet makes the reader wanting for more. I like that it is an easy and enjoyable reading and most of all I like how the author created rainbows from the beginning to end, just like her name. Rainbow Rowell- I would definitely look forward to more of your books.

Aversions!!!

There are some heavy issues and topics I can get concerned with specially for a romance-centered YA novel. Sadly, not all of it really works. I felt that subplots are short-handed and was left hanging when all is said and done. The contradicting problems of Eleanor with her Dad, her mom and her stepdad, or the bullies at school – never felt fully realized or resolved by the end of the book. A lot of complications and complexity were added to the lives of these two teenagers, but weren’t explored for a deeper impact. It’s all too neatly and smoothly solved and reconciled. I was disappointed with the quick fix in the end. I think it was rushed and hurried event. The postcard ending was cute but I would have opted to add a phone call with it, since, the part of Eleanor memorizing Park’s home phone number was given a lot of focus before hand. It would have justified on how she promised to keep the number by heart. I like that Eleanor sent Park a three-word message, because it could give the readers a wild guess of what could those three words be. For me, it would be “I LOVE YOU” –because she wasn’t able to say it back to him.

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7 thoughts on “Book Review: ELEANOR and PARK

  1. My favorite scene was the handholding, and I totally agree about the subplot. When everything else was so fresh and new, it felt a little tired. But the book is still absolutely amazing. Than,s for the shout-out!

    • Totally amazing. Like in the book, What do you think about Shakespeare? Do you agree with Eleanor or do you agree with Park? Thanks for dropping by Kristin! Totally appreciate it :-)

      • I’m a romantic through and through, so I agree with Park. Romeo and Juliet, as well as Shakespeare’s other plays and poetry, have staying power because they touch on universal human emotions and experiences – family struggles, grief, anger, revenge, and of course, love. Honestly, I had to do a quick Google search to remind me of the role Shakespeare played in Eleanor and Park, and I ran across this quote by Rainbow Rowell, which I found to be so true. She said, ““When you’re that age, you have maybe the greatest capacity [for love]. You feel love with your whole body. You can be consumed by it in a way that you’re not when you’re older, and yet you don’t have anything to offer the other person. You don’t even belong to yourself yet. . . . You can’t make any promises.” Shakespeare shows in Romeo and Juliet that kind of all-encompassing love. Thanks for reminding me of this pivotal scene!

      • Oh that is so true!! I paused when I got to that part on the book. I have to digest the thought of Eleanor’s opinion. But then again, I agree with Park. :-)

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