Title: Eleanor & ParkAuthor: Rainbow Rowell
Published: 2012 by Orion Books
Source of book: the library
Synopsis from Goodreads
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.
Sometimes I fail to recall how strongly a really good novel can affect a person. How it can dazzle, make you sizzle, break your heart, melt your brains, gently make you forget where you are and what the time is. Eleanor and Park reminded me. This is the love story of the decade, maybe even the century, a new Romeo and Juliet. I would like to thrust this book into any romance-lover’s hands immediately… or anyone’s hands, really… For me this novel was as close to flawless as any novel can be.
She is quirky, with her mismatched outfits, ribbons tied around her wrists and a shocking tangle of crimson hair. She is strong, facing her everyday life of poverty and a fear of abuse. And yet she is lonely, a new girl at school, friendless and hiding her life that is full of misery and anxiety.
All of these and more are the reasons I love Eleanor and truly felt for her situation. Her worries concerning her weight, her stepfather and her home balanced by her love of books and music, and her growing feelings for the boy next to her on the school bus make her appealing to the reader and a very much realistic, fully three-dimensional character.
ParkPark starts off as an average guy – never messing with the school bully, reading comics and listening to his Walkman. Maybe the reason I found Park such an amazing character was that he definitely isn’t perfect. He cares about his reputation in the eyes of his classmates and doesn’t think positively or kindly about everyone at all times.
All in all, Park feels like a real, normal guy, not some Edward Cullenish supernatural freak, and that honest portrayal of him makes him exceedingly likeable – maybe because I relate to having faults like his. However, he develops as a person, and that makes him admirable as well, and the progress happens at a realistic pace.
Rainbow Rowell’s talent in telling the story of Eleanor and Park has without a doubt woken my interests in becoming acquainted with the rest of her works. The pacing of the story is wonderful and unrushed and the profound thoughts throughout the novel resonated with me strongly. Due to the characters’ convincing backgrounds, personalities and conversations I truly felt like I was reading a true story about true people. Nothing felt exaggerated, overly polished or improbable and I delighted in that.
Perhaps the very best aspect of this incredibly well-written story was the web of relationships between characters – and the best of all was the slowly growing romance between Eleanor and Park. I can safely say that this pair is one of my top five favourites in literature and that their tale will stay in my heart for years. I beg those readers who have not yet had the chance to fall in love with this couple to give them a chance – I am certain many of you will be enchanted, like I was, by the very first page.
The best book I have read all summer – sweet, almost bittersweet contemporary
romance that touched my heart and made me cry!