Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Title: Eleanor & Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Published: February 26, 2013
Source: Purchased
Purchase: Amazon  |  B&N

From Amazon:

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.

Eleanor & Park is the winner of the 2013 Boston Globe Horn Book Award for Best Fiction Book



Eleanor & Park is as sweet as a sugary, honey-filled confection topped with maple syrup and as heartbreakingly painful as barbed-wire-guided exploratory surgery.  But this story was so very beautiful, and I want to live it over and over again.

“‘I just want to break that song into pieces,’ she said, 
‘and love them all to death.’” 

When Eleanor steps onto the school bus that will take her to her first day at her new school, she isn’t exactly welcomed with open arms.  No one will even allow her – the big, awkward red-head – to sit next to them… until finally, Park – the unbelievably cute and equally “stupid Asian kid” (Eleanor’s words, not mine) – lets her share his seat.  From that first uncomfortable, dread-filled day to the blossoming friendship and romance that takes place until the last page, readers are swept away in a timeless and ageless story that will do things to your heart and your tear ducts.

Eleanor & Park made me feel like a kid again.  It took me back to the eighties and back to my own neighborhood cutie who kept showing up on our doorstep day after day and finally got the courage to ask me to “go with him.”  Not that we could go anywhere.  I’m not going to lie… I got a little “geeky” reading this book.  I love the 80’s, and every nod to that era made me giddy.  A giddy little geek… that’s what this book turned me into.

“When he thought of someone writing that ugly thing on her book… 
it made him feel like Bill Bixby just before he turned into the Hulk.”

This is more than a coming-of-age story; it defines young love and reminds us that, unfortunately, the world can be a very cruel place sometimes.

Never has reading about hand-holding given my stomach so many butterflies or made my heart flutter as much as the first time (and every time after) that Park reached for Eleanor’s hand.

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

I adored Park’s family – they were great but not perfect, and that just made them so very real to me.  Eleanor’s family was a very different story. I can’t wrap my head around a mother not putting her children first.  It boggles my mind and hurts my soul.  I haven’t wanted to crawl into a book and onto the pages to rescue a character this much since Charlie in The Perks of Being a Wallflower.  

“And when Eleanor smiled, something broke inside him.  
Something always did.”

This was my very first Rainbow Rowell book, and it certainly won’t be my last.  I love her writing style and the way she held me hostage with her words and the characters she created.  I’m completely enamored and a definite fan!

“… it felt so good that it crowded out all the bad things. 
 It felt better than anything had ever hurt.”


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