Saturday, March 23, 2013

Eleanor & Park

Eleanor & Park
Eleanor & Park

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.
I have decided recently that I want to start trying other formats for review depending on what I think the book needs. So this is another book where I will just be listing the things that I loved about it. I will go back to the old format for most books, but for now I'm going to experiment with other formats.
Things I loved about Eleanor & Park.
1. Eleanor
Something that I thought was really well done in this book was Eleanor's journey from not quite trusting anyone to her letting people in. Not just letting Park in to her life and her problems, but also Beebi and Denice. I mean that she let herself open up, if only a little. I also love that she wasn't the typical YA girl who has it all together and who always tries to be pleasant. Eleanor got angry and confused and scared and taciturn and she mostly took it out on the wrong people,  but I understood her more as a character because of that. However, goodness, she was frustrating a lot of the time (especially toward the end of the book). But that didn't make me stop liking her as a character, it just made me want to jump into the book and make her send a letter to Park (but in the end I accepted the actual ending).
2. & Park
Park was really awesome. I loved how he was just trying to be himself and how he realized that Eleanor saw him for who he was. He loved his punk music and his comic books and he knew how to roundhouse kick someone in the face, but he was also sweet and layered. I really liked how complex his character was. He knew how much he thought of what other people thought of him was bad, but what he didn't know is that Eleanor worried about what people thought of her too. He didn't know that almost all teenagers do.
3. All the Small Details
Rainbow Rowell included so many small and basically insignificant details into this book, but when the book came to a close, the small details stuck in your mind. One of my favorite details was when Park was showing Eleanor a song and he interpreted the lyrics "I am the son, I am the heir" and Eleanor, instead, heard "I am the sun, I am the air." I thought that even that tiny detail was really beautiful and special.
4. The Inevitability of the Ending
Because Rainbow Rowell decided to start this book with Park's perspective after Eleanor you go through this book knowing that there IS an "after Eleanor." You know that somehow it isn't going to work out and somewhere along the line things will go wrong. And yet you find yourself hoping against hope that things continue to go right, that they won't have to say goodbye to each other. But you also feel the ending creeping up on you. You know that this book and their relationship could never end in anything other than heartbreak and separation.
5. More than just Romance
I loved that this book hit on themes more than just a cute romance. It is about feeling different or being an outcast. It is about friendship. It is about abuse. It is about relationships. It is about being young and falling in love, even if it can't and won't last. It was, at some level, about not judging someone until you let yourself get to know them because they might be just who you need.

6. Park's Mom and Dad
The characters in this book were all well-developed and deeply flawed characters. But they were always genuine. They felt like real people that you could root for or dislike. My favorite side characters were Park's mom and dad. They were truly nice people, and they had their issues with being a bit judgmental and everything, but when it came down to it they wanted to help Eleanor.
Things (or really, thing) I didn't like about Eleanor & Park.
1. Language
This book had quite a bit of bad language. Granted the scenes with her step-dad's freak outs wouldn't have felt as real without a bit of language, but there was an awful lot.
“Holding Eleanor’s hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like holding something complete, and completely alive."
"He kept making her feel like it was safe to smile.”
"As soon as he said it, she broke into a smile. And when Eleanor smiled, something broke inside him. Something always did."
"Eleanor was right: She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn't supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something."
"He got why Eleanor tried so hard to look different. Sort of. It was because she was different--because she wasn't afraid to be. (Or maybe she was just more afraid of being like everyone else.)
"There was something really exciting about that. He liked being near that, that kind of brave and crazy."

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