Thursday, June 6, 2013

Eleanor and Park - Rainbow Rowell

Title: Eleanor and Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin, 2013 (Hardcover)
Length: 325 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Realistic Fiction, Historical Fiction
Started: June 3, 2013
Finished: June 6, 2013

From the inside cover:

Two misfits.

One extraordinary love.

Eleanor...Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough...Eleanor.

Park...He knows she'll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises...Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds-smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

There aren't enough words to describe my love for this book. An adorably cute love story, 80s nostalgia, geeky interests galore, I totally heart this.

The place, Omaha, Nebraska. The time, 1986.

After being kicked out by her alcoholic, abusive stepfather for a year, Eleanor is allowed to return home and tries to resume a semblance of normalcy. Between walking on eggshells around her stepdad, trying to figure out why her mother even married the guy in the first place, sharing a bedroom with all four of her siblings, and living in poverty, Eleanor doesn't get much of a break. She lives for her music and books, and tries to be invisible so the kids at school won't pick on her even more.

Park is half-Korean, worries a lot, and doesn't stand up for himself to anyone. His dad's been trying to teach him to drive for a year without success, his mom employs his services in her beauty parlour, and he's a kung-fu master. He's a music junkie and loves comic books, and always seems to be living in standby...until he meets Eleanor.

From the first spark where Eleanor reads Watchmen comics over Park's shoulder on the bus, to creating mix tapes for each other and being each other's lifeline; you can't help but find the relationship between the two of them incredibly adorable. The nostalgia of first love, where you fall so, so hard for someone echoes perfectly here; and the musings of both Eleanor and Park in the alternating points of view are so spot on it's scary.

The 80s references and geek culture are so much fun here. I wasn't a teenager in the 80s (that came a decade later), but I still remember my Walkman and Discman being permanently fused to my hip,  listening to mix tapes and burned cds galore until the batteries died out or until I fell asleep. I love the fact that Eleanor and Park read comics, especially Watchmen, and Eleanor's jokes about X-men and Batman had me giggling.

The book has a lot of wonderful themes that weave through it: having the courage to take a stand against bullying, abuse, and harassment; being brave enough to go through experiences you know will likely hurt you in the end but know you'll be better off for having them, and that some things (some simple pleasures and some more complicated) make life worth living.

Go read this book. Like yesterday.

There is foul language for those concerned (lots of f-bombs), plus the various examples of abuse with Eleanor's family. The sexual content is fairly tame, no actual sex and more cutesy devotion than anything else.

Thoughts on the cover:
Love it. Very simple but it fits incredibly well.

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