Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Book Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Pages: 336
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary
Release Date: 12/04/2012
Publisher: Orion
Got it from Mum for Xmas.

Eleanor is the new girl in town, and with her chaotic family life, her mismatched clothes and unruly red hair, she couldn't stick out more if she tried.

Park is the boy at the back of the bus. Black T-shirts, headphones, head in a book - he thinks he's made himself invisible. But not to Eleanor... never to Eleanor.

Slowly, steadily, through late-night conversations and an ever-growing stack of mix tapes, Eleanor and Park fall for each other. They fall in love the way you do the first time, when you're young, and you feel as if you have nothing and everything to lose.

This book has been out for a little while. I had heard a few good things here and there, but I had too many books to read already, so I just never got around to buying it. I received a copy of 'Fangirl' for review last year and really liked it. Then, a couple months before Christmas came I saw a really good review for this (sorry I can't remember which blog, so I can't share the link) and I wrote it on my wishlist straight away. I ended up getting the novel for Xmas and it's the 2nd book I have picked up to read in 2015. On Sunday night I thought I would pick it up and read a chapter before bed. At 2:00AM I was still reading 'Eleanor & Park', debating whether or not to put the book down and go to sleep already. I did eventually put the book down and get some much needed sleep, And, finished reading it the next day.

Firstly, can I just say that this is probably the quickest I have read a book in such a long time. Once upon a time, if you were looking for me, you'd find me stretched out on my bed reading. I still enjoy reading, but I find that I have to remind myself that I actually own books. I found 'Eleanor & Park' to be so addictive and I thought that switching between the POVs of Eleanor and Park in such small sections kept my attention.

I really enjoy Rainbow Rowell's writing and I couldn't help giggling at some of it. I found both the characters to be really easy to like and thought they were very realistic. From the outside cover, this book might seem like it's just some teen romance, and it is, but it is also a lot more than that. Usually when characters get in arguments or don't act very confident I can get a little annoyed with them, but in 'Eleanor & Park' I felt like I could understand the characters so I had no qualms with the way they acted.

This book was not just about first loves and young love, but it also covered some deeper topics. Things like meeting your parents expectations, judging people, being kind to others, family, gender roles and domestic abuse. I thought it was really interesting to see the differences between Eleanor and Park's home life and to see how the characters reacted to finding out some of these differences. I think this book will make a lot of people feel grateful for what they have and reconsider what they say about others.

The novel was also set in the mid-eighties which I thought was pretty cool, because I have a lot of eighties movies and music. I did "get" most of the references as far as music was concerned, but I had no clue what they were talking about when they discussed comics. If you aren't into any of those things, I don't think it should really matter. Maybe 'Eleanor & Park' will be introducing hoards of young people to The Cure and The Smiths...

Here is one of my favourite quotes from the book:
"She couldn’t repay him. She couldn’t even appropriately thank him. How can you thank someone for the Cure? Or the X-Men? Sometimes it felt like she’d always be in his debt. And then she realized that Park didn't know about the Beatles."

I was a little thrown off by the ending. I don't want to give too much away in regards to the ending, but, it was a bit of a "What?!" moment. I am cool with the ending now, I think. I just thought I would mention it, so you kind of know to expect a "What?!" ending. If you read on a little further, Rainbow explains the ending...

As far as the cover is concerned, I am not really into it. I get that it matches the story perfectly, and I think it's NICE. However, there is nothing about it that is overly inviting and the cover definitely isn't what encouraged me to pick this up. I know covers aren't supposed to be everything, but if it's going to be the thing that helps a reader decide what to buy then  it's definitely important...

Overall, I think this book deserves a 5 out of 5 and a favourite. I think it's a great read and I would recommend it to a lot of different people. I think I liked this more than 'Fangirl' and I can't wait to read more buy this author! Also, I hope she writes a sequel to this one...

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Divergent Gryffindor said...

I loved this book too, especially how the author made hand-holding, a small thing, look like a really big thing and made me feel all the feels! And I agree that this one is more than just about romance. Great review! :)
Kim @ Divergent Gryffindor

Rebecca (@ Garrulous and Bookish) said...

I really loved Eleanor and Park- I have read all of Rainbow Rowell's books but this one was my first. I loved the details of falling in love and I loved both of the main characters. I think Fangirl is my favorite of her books but she is an excellent writer and I have enjoyed all of them.