Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Page Count: 325 pages, Paperback
Date Published: February 26th 2013 (Hardback)
Find it on Goodreads: Eleanor & ParkSource: Purchased
TWO MISFITS. ONE EXTRAORDINARY LOVE. It's 1986 and two star-crossed teens are 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. A cross between the iconic '80s movie Sixteen Candles and the classic coming-of-age novel Looking for Alaska, Eleanor & Park is a brilliantly written young adult novel.
Eleanor & Park was that book for me. Maybe some of you have seen my tweets about this book, maybe not. But if you have, then you will know that this book was something special for me. This is going to be kind of a different review, because Eleanor & Park is a novel that I related to on such a strong level that it's almost too personal to write about. I will never be able to fully describe in a coherent method how much I adore this book. It was funny and sarcastic and cheesy and cute and sexy and wonderful and brilliant. It made me think and it made me laugh and it made me cry and it broke my heart. It also made me really listen to music for the first time in over a month. But I'll be getting into that in another post.
Eleanor was a character that I connected to in such a way that it's hard to describe. While her family life was much more drastic than mine is and she goes through so much more crap than I can ever imagine, there were also so many things that she experienced and knew and felt and thought that I felt the author had plucked from my brain. This was a highlighter-worthy book and it definitely got highlighted. There were so many passages from her POV that I marked down or made a highlighted line near so that I could remember, because Eleanor spoke to me. Almost all the things that annoyed me about her are things that annoy me about myself and I don't know how else to say how much Eleanor means to me. She's a character that has a special place in my heart because there was something about her that made me think differently about myself and about a lot of things in my life.
Then there was Park. I loved Park. He was sweet and funny and totally cheesy, nerdy and sarcastic and just plain awesome. He likes amazing music and loves his family, but in no way is his family perfect. He's a guy that I want to meet in the bookstore or at a coffee shop in real life. His love for Eleanor and how much he cares for her was adorable but I loved that he was more than just Eleanor's secret boyfriend. He was a guy who had difficulties driving a stick-shift, a comic book lover and an athlete. He didn't care what his friends thought but he totally did and he hated that he did and he was just... Park.
This book deals with a lot more than just first love. It touches a lot on bullying, family issues, as well as on alcoholism, body image issues, music and geeky references, too. But the main story is the relationship between Eleanor and Park. It's not insta-luv, thank god. Actually, their first interaction is with Park swearing at Eleanor to sit down on the bus and them not talking to each other for a substantial amount of time. Their bus-buddyship gradually turns from an awkward, weird sitting together but not really, to an awkward I'm-reading-your-comics-and-failing-to-be-secret-about-it thing, to a nice comic-giving, music-recommending friendship and finally into something more. And it's a teen relationship. They're slow with some things, fast with others. They care so much for each other but know it probably won't work out. And yet, they try so hard. And I thought their relationship was amazing. Sure it was super cheesy at some points, but that's what made it awesome. Eleanor & Park contains a relationship between two teens who know that they're almost certainly not going to work out, but they try anyways.
With this book, it's difficult for me to say how the writing was, because I was just so immersed in the story and cared so deeply for the characters that honestly, I didn't notice the writing too much. Sure, there were a couple of times where I cocked my head and wondered if that could have been worded differently, but for the most part, I was too focused on what was happening with the story.
If you like books that are raw and serious, but at the same time cheesy and hilarious, pick up Eleanor & Park. This book was incredible and wonderful and I can't wait to read more from Rainbow Rowell. The ending was heartbreaking, but also sweet, and that was to be expected. This is a new favourite of mine and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did if you decide to read it as well.
Also, if you haven't read John Green's NYT review of Eleanor & Park, please do!