Eleanor and Park

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Eleanor and Park
by Rainbow Rowell

Young love, high school sweethearts and any other cheesy label I can think of just doesn’t fit this bittersweet story. Eleanor is the new girl at school and she’s an easy target for others to pick on. She doesn’t wear the right clothes and is never quite able to tame her curly red hair. Despite this she becomes friends with Park, a quiet but popular Korean-American boy she meets on the bus. The two form an unlikely bond over a shared love of music and comic books. As sweet as their relationship is, there’s a much bigger story that Rowell is telling.

She touches on so many issues; popularity, school bullies, first love, growing up, gender identity, culture clash and so much more. As an added bonus, the book is set in 1986 in Omaha, Nebraska and is full of pop culture ‘80s references.

Eleanor’s personal life is rocky to say the least. Her secrets slowly unfold throughout the book and you can’t help but love the prickly teen.  She is so raw and vulnerable and of course because of that she’s hard and defensive on the outside. As her past is revealed it’s painful to see what she’s been through.

These beautiful characters feel so real.  They aren’t simple, they don’t fit into a box, they’re wonderfully complex. Even their parents aren’t generic pictures of good or bad, they make mistakes and selfish decisions like any real parents do. I particularly loved getting to know Park's parents. Their relationship and the very different way they interact with their children felt like a real family.

BOTTOM LINE: It’s fitting that Rowell’s next book is titled “Fangirl” because I think I’m officially a fangirl for her work. Between this book and her first one, Attachments I feel like I’ve found an author who creates some memorable characters and tells wonderful stories. I can’t wait to read more from her.

“He made her feel like more than the sum of her parts.” 


Brooke said...

Reading this one in August and can't wait! I'm hearing some less than perfect things about Fangirl though. We shall see!

The Relentless Reader said...

I really need to get to Attachments! I loved E&P with my whole heart :)

Gerbera Daisy Diaries said...

Because of the overwhelming LOVE for this book, I bought it and it should come in the mail this week!! Can't wait!

Heather said...

Yay! I am a totally FANGIRL for Rainbow Rowell. I've loved all three of her books, although E&P holds my heart. I can't wait to read what she does next.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Brooke - Interesting, I'll try to make my expectations a bit more realistic.

Jennifer - Although Attachments was my first Rowell book, I loved E&P more. They're both good, but it hit me on a deeper level.

Melissa - That's what I did with Attachments. I caved to the great reviews and bought it and just loved it.

Heather - She is just fantastic!

Andi said...

Looooved it! So glad you did, too!

Sandy Nawrot said...

I HAVE TO READ THIS!!! I'm not sure how many people have to tell me how wonderful it is before I just read it already.

P.S. My e-mail doesn't work from my computer for some reason, but this trip to IN has allowed absolutely NO TIME because we are having a big party for my parents' 50th wedding anniversary. There is other family in town, etc. so I have no time for any trips to Indy. :(

Anonymous said...

This one is on my reading list. I really liked Attachments (which I wrote about on my blog in January from an employee-rights perspective). I'm looking forward to the '80s pop culture references!

Allie said...

I really want to read this one!

JoAnn said...

I usually read only one or two YA titles a year, but this has got to be the one I choose!

Jillian said...

I am so intrigued by this book! Something about the title and the cover art. I have to get my hands on this.

Bybee said...

This interests me because of the Korean-American character and his family. Thanks for the review!

Ana S. said...

Perfect book is perfect <3

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Andi - Just one of those books that's a complete treat to read.

Sandy - 50th anniversary, that's wonderful! You and I will catch up in Orlando this fall :)

misfortuneofknowing - Oh my goodness, I wouldn't have even thought about the employee-rights aspect of Attachments. How interesting!

Allie - It's a really quick read.

JoAnn - It's definitely worth one of your YA slots for the year!

Jillian - Her books have the best cover art!

Bybee - Park's family is one of my favorite parts in the book!

Ana - :)

The Insouciant Sophisticate said...

I'm a total Rowell fangirl too-I haven't read that one yet because I'm saving it but I love E&P and Attachments so much and cannot recommend them enough!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Bookworm1858 - She really is wonderful!