Author: Rainbow Rowell
First Line: XTC was no good for drowning out the morons at the back of the bus.
Holding Eleanor's hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like holding something complete, and completely alive.
I try to keep up with the popular books of the moment - particularly those that are being read by my students. As such, when one of the senior girls from school asked me to read Eleanor and Park, a book that was already on my radar, I immediately went searching for it. I was delighted to find that both of my public libraries held a copy, but, sadly, both copies were unavailable. And so they remained. Not being a fan of the way my libraries organise their holding system, I often just try to luck it out and get it on or near the return date, but this book eluded me for over two months. Not to worry, however, for surely this just meant it was being well loved and it would be worth the wait.
Thankfully it really was. A quick stationary dart into town for work bought me right next to the library so I was able to duck in and pick it up. Then I made my mistake, I stupidly read a chapter while waiting in line at the circulation desk. Oh no. I was hooked pretty much off the bat. However was I to go back to work and actually work with this book sitting on my desk? Somehow I managed it with only a few distracting moments, but as soon as I got home it was time for the lounge and blankets and tea until that last page was read. I haven't read a book in one sitting like that for a long time, so that should be high praise in and of itself. But! Onto the book itself!
I wasn't too aware of the plot line of Eleanor and Park before I picked it up. I knew it was about first love, I knew there was talk of an upcoming movie, and I knew it was big with the Nerdfighter crowd (who have never steered me wrong before), but as for the actual details, I had none.
The me that's me right now is yours. Always.
Eleanor Douglas and Park Sheridan the protagonists of this novel, are both social misfits to varying degrees - Eleanor because she simply can't fit it, and Park in spite of it. Meeting on the bus on Eleanor's first day, the pair, despite the eternal and unwavering politics of a school bus, move from a place of isolation to true friendship and, ultimately, into the sweet clutches of first love.
More than the sweet simplicity of schoolyard romance, however, Eleanor and Park's relationship finds itself strained, and threatened, by Eleanor's home life - which is, by all accounts, far from ideal. With Eleanor struggling to stay afloat in a situation no sixteen year old should have to deal with, Park stands as a terrifying yet stable beacon of hope.
I've heard the book marketed as a read for any adult who wishes to remember the joys of first loves, and Rowell certainly delivers on this promise. She manages to deliver all the innocent joy of discovery and the bitter strains of heartache without falling into the saccharine or clichéd. She employees an uneven distribution of perspective, switching between Eleanor and Park even within chapters, but instead of being distracting or disjointed it only serves to further the sense of anticipation and joy between them. I feel as though using format to reflect emotion is often a difficult feat to pull off naturally, but Rowell champions it here.
I really felt myself getting swept away in the emotions of this book. Often when I read a romance between teen characters I can enjoy the plot, or appreciate the characters, but I often find the romantic development simplistic to the point of disbelief. The romance between Eleanor and Park develops just as quickly, to be sure, but I felt a truth to their emotions, and an authenticity to Rowell's words that completely won me over.
I would definitely recommend this to any YA lover! Particularly any John Green fans. 5/5
Read if you enjoyed:
- Looking for Alaska - John Green
- Paper Towns - John Green
- Life in Outer Space - Melissa Keil
Other Reviews Have you written a review for this book? I would love to include it, comment below and I'll add your link!