Friday, January 4, 2013

Rainbow Rowell Delivers a Pure Story of First Love with Eleanor & Park


I wasn’t to sure about this book after reading the first couple of chapters but then…Eleanor & Park totally consumed me. I was envious of how unique they were and floored by their individuality. While reading I took a seat behind both of them in the bus and watched as Rainbow Rowell described two individuals find pure friendship and love while they read comic books and shared music on a walkmen from 1986.

Eleanor & Park is the second book for Rainbow Rowell. She’s written Attachments and her third book Fangirl is due out next, which I will both be reading. The book is written from Eleanor and Park’s perception, it made the book flow incredibly well and made the characters very real. Some people may say that the description of love in this book is to angsty or declarative I however connected with the entire book. The moment when Park takes Eleanor’s hand in the bus was eloquently honest and humorous later when Eleanor tries to replicate it but can’t. I realized in that moment that this book was special.

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Summary:

"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.

I wanted to protect Eleanor the moment she graced the page with her fire red, out of control hair. Her style of dress is described as odd but I sincerely think she is written as someone ahead of her time. The neckties that she wears around her wrist would be copied and mass-produced today. But when you are ahead of your time you often get ridiculed and made fun of for it. Eleanor is also described as a bit over weight and because of this gets a called ‘big red’ when classmates want to pick on her. Her family situation is horrid and even though dark at times, very real. Her mother is involved with a royal ass of a husband that often takes his drunken aggression on the entire family. Even though Eleanor’s presence receives a lot of attention she is very timid and quiet. The moment she meets Park a spark ignites within her. She’s herself and when reading Park’s perception of her you see this beautiful person that you just want to hug tight.

Park was absolutely ahead of his time. I loved how patient he was with Eleanor. It showed how much she fascinated him. I would feel privileged to sit down and just talk of music and comics with him all day. When he finds what comics and music interest Eleanor he picks a few things of his own and shares them with her. He gets a kick out of it and likes to see her reaction. Like Eleanor, he sees himself as different, even though the popular kids welcome him to their crowd. He is half Asian and has a dad who served in Vietnam. He doesn’t feel his dad sees him and wants him to be like his brother. But when Park finally does something to his appearance to make him feel like himself, he ends up having one more issue with his dad. I would be proud if I had a son like Park or my daughter brought someone home like Park. His moment of grace is when he sees Eleanor in a very humiliating situation, at least in her eyes, but Park realizes in that moment how much he needs her.

Eleanor & Park is simply about Eleanor & Park, an honest tale of first love. Even though people may not say all the things they say when together, I can guarantee they think them. (You know who you are) Eleanor and Park’s moments of intimacy are innocent yet realistic when you have nowhere to be alone as a teen. Oh, and a big thumbs up to Rainbow Rowell who managed to work in a Star Wars reference and make it romantic. It was one of my top five favorite moments in the book. The music references were amazing as well. Rowell recognizes that you cannot write a book without mentioning The Smiths, and the Cure. Only one song played in my head while reading, actually a cover of a song that I think Eleanor & Park would appreciate and listen to themselves. When I hear it I see them singing it to each other. 

If you love the 80’s, New Wave music, and the X-men you should give this book a chance. It was written for fanatics like us who also like books about love. I have a lot of friends who fall into this category and I plan to share it with them. I must mention the cover because it’s beautifully sweet. It captures Rainbow Rowell’s book perfectly. I wish they’d make posters of book covers so I could add this to my wall of top ten books.   

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