on 30 May 2012
Eleanor & Park reminded me of the bright spots in those awkward high school years: the difference one true friend who understands you can make and how liberating it felt to fall in love with books, music, poetry, etc. The main characters are teens who stumble into a relationship that is tender and intense while their complicated family lives advance a plot with a truly surprise ending. (I challenge anyone to say they saw it coming.) Rainbow Rowell creates such lovely characters, even the minor ones are funny and memorable. I was immediately invested in Eleanor and Park's lives, and once that happened, I couldn't devour the book fast enough. Now, I can't wait to share it with all of the readers in my life.
I read Rowell's book Attachments and liked it, but I can honestly say I truly, truly loved Eleanor & Park even more. No question. The tone to Eleanor & Park is more serious and the love between the characters feels so alive. I felt like I knew these kids... that I was one of them however many years ago. For that reason, I felt more hooked and cared more about what was going to happen. I finished this in two sittings because I couldn't stand to put it down. Don't think that it's all sadness and angst. Rowell can't help but write smart and snappy dialogue, and her sense of humor is what makes these characters so great. Eleanor, especially, has wit and a tender sarcasm that give her a fun edge. If you read Attachments and liked it, you have to give Eleanor & Park a try.
This story centers on two teenagers in the 80s, one half Korean boy who lives a fairly cushy life, and a slightly overweight girl living with her highly dysfunctional family in a small and run down home with little money. These two do not seem like the type to get along, but a gradual relationship develops between the two as they sit together on the bus each morning. There isn't a trace of insta-love in this novel and the relationship between Eleanor and Park develops very slowly but you savour each and every moment.
I think what's great about this book is that it isn't your typical high school romance. This isn't a story about "opposites attract", but rather the interesting development of a relationship between two very different characters that somehow complement each other. These characters are not perfect, they are flawed individually and as a couple; they argue lots and sometimes Eleanor/Park really annoyed me (REALLY annoyed me), but I liked this about Eleanor & Park because it made the characters seem more real and alive. This novel isn't sappy in the slightest, and if it is, then a character acknowledges the sappiness of the situation, which again, makes these characters seem real; they are definitely not characters living in a world of make believe. It is probably Eleanor's difficult home life which keeps this story grounded as she comes from a difficult background. She has a large family and is often picked on at school but her attitude towards these things seem more realistic as she is sometimes brave, but not always, she is sometimes selfish, but recognises this, though acknowledges that guilt doesn't make her feel any different. There is just something so raw and truthful about the everything that goes through these two teenagers mind.
What I found rather strange and hard to get my head around was the fact that this book was written in a dual narrative but in the third person. This was a fascinating way of getting right into Eleanor and Park's head, but also giving the reader enough distance so that there was an air of mystery around what each character was thinking at every second. It was especially fascinating reading the different POVs of these two characters as they are wildly different, and yet at one. You can see that there are vast differences in the way that these characters think and feel and it's sort of like the reader is keeping secrets for both Eleanor and Park which you cannot reveal to the other person. I was rather touched by this novel on a personal level even though I can't really relate to any of the content, simply because the narrative is so full of real emotions which seem truthful and heartfelt.
I have to say that I don't think I was quite as enamored by this book as the rest of it's readers. Sure, Eleanor & Park is a fantastic novel and it is awfully cute/heartbreaking but I wouldn't peg it as a five star read as many before me have. I think the thing that bothered me the most about this book is the lack of plot. Although this was a very nice snippet from the teenage years of Eleanor and Park, I felt that perhaps this snippet was directionless and didn't really have a plot that built up. I would say that this book simply follows the relationship of Eleanor and Park from the very beginning, but everything is a bit up in the air at the end, which may appeal to some, but for me it just seemed like the story was missing another chapter. I'd say that this story is much more about the thoughts and feelings of these two characters and not on any sort of event that happens in either one of their lives.
All in all, this a great novel, though perhaps a little more style than substance. The writing is superb and highly addictive so you will no doubt be drawn in and unable to put this book down; however, don't bother waiting for some sort of major event to 'happen' because it's not going to. That's probably the only downside to this book as it really is very well written and a pleasure to read.
Eleanor and Park is one of those books I'm still thinking about a week after finishing it. It left me a little but heartbroken, strangely happy and very much in love with Eleanor and Park and their unlikely pairing.
Set in 1986, Eleanor and Park features many references to my favourite 80's music, including Joy Division, Echo and the Bunnymen and The Smiths. There isn't a mobile phone or laptop in sight; instead our characters communicate via landlines, mix tapes and actual real-life conversation. I loved that this book was set in the 80's - I felt that I got to know Eleanor and Park better, and I also got to live in my favourite musical era for a while. Everything was different back then, and this book really shows that.
Now, I need to talk about Eleanor and Park. At first I didn't particularly like either of them: I thought Park was mean and I thought Eleanor was quiet and irritating, but I quickly changed my mind on both counts. These two belong together, and that's evident in the way they help each other and make each other's lives better. It all started with X-Men comics but it ended with a lot more than that.
Eleanor's home life is a big part of her story, allowing author Rainbow Rowell to cover some very serious issues while somehow managing not to make it too bleak or overly dark. The contract between Eleanor's and Park's parents is stark, and definitely made me extra grateful for my family. I felt sorry for Eleanor but at the same time I felt empowered by her and the way she wanted to change and make a difference.
Eleanor and Park is one of those books you just have to read. You'll be transported into another decade where life was slightly simpler, technology was a luxury and the Watchmen comics were just being published for the very first time. In this decade you'll meet a boy and a girl who mean everything to each other, and who understand the importance of friendship and love. You'll read it and be part of their lives for a few hours, and you'll still be thinking about them long after closing the book. Do yourself a favour and meet Eleanor and Park, and then never forget them.
on 15 November 2014
My 17 year old daughters review of this novel:
Sadly, I started this book when I was going through a tough time in my own personal mindset, and therefore the book was often abandoned and forgotten about. However, I eventually finished it and I am so glad that I did, as the books overall plot linked in some ways, with what I was going through.
Eleanor and Park is a love story written about a boy called Park and a girl called Eleanor. Eleanor is the new girl in school and after being treated terribly by her classmates and the kid she sits next to on the bus, she begins to give up on humanity. Park has been at the school for years, but he finds himself often distancing himself from his friends because they share no common interests, and he too is giving up on humanity. Although their introduction is pretty brief and blunt, the two become close...suddenly! And before they know it, they're all that each other things about. Eleanor comes from a broken home, where her new step-dad has disgusting thoughts and hits her mother. Park comes from what Eleanor would call a 'perfect home' however, he hates how his dad and mum treat him, and he seems to have formed into something that they'd accept and he cannot be himself anymore. The two inevitably fall in love and they begin to think that they're going to get their happy ending, however - life sucks...and it does terrible things. I guess, some people are meant to meet, but some people aren't meant to stick together.
I adore Rainbow Rowell's style of writing. I was obsessed with Fangirl and how she portrayed the anxious and nervous Cath, and I adored how she portrayed her characters here. Rainbow has successfully created two contrasting characters who want nothing more then each other. Eleanor is weak, vulnerable but she plays that 'I'm tough' aspect whilst Park is a tough one, who seems to be breaking on the inside. The two feed off each others emotions and the inevitable of them falling in love with each other, was almost disturbing for them at some points.
The way that the book was told in both of the characters perspective of things, was good. It didn't repeat events either! It just told them from a whole new angle, allowing you to grasp and swallow the characters emotions, seeing the contrast of how the two begin to feel. Also, by having the two characters tell their story and intwine it into one, made the story a lot more relatable. Normally, I don't really relate to male characters purely because I am a female. There are obvious exceptions of this, where male characters are represented so wonderfully that I feel connected to them and what they're going through. However, by seeing the balance and how the change of events was effected both characters, it made the story more relatable for me as a reader.
To be completely truthful, I had no idea what I was going to think of the plot. When I first bought the book, I thought that maybe it'd just be another love story with a tragic ending, or a happy ending. Those are a little bit too soppy for me sometimes. But I am glad I took the plunge with Eleanor and Park and decided to read it, because the plot blew me away. If you're concerned and think this is going to be just another hopeless teenage romance, you're wrong. Yes, they fall in love, but their love is honestly like no other love. I'm not even sure if for certain those two ended up being boyfriend and girlfriend. Also, the cliffhanger at the end, makes you constantly read over everything they went through together, and question how it ends completely.
An added bonus of this book is how Eleanor and Park's love was connected through music. Music is something I am so passionate and strong about, and I am so pleased to see that authors do focus on the art of music and how it can make someone believe so much and fall so fast. When words fail, music speaks. And this book shows how two people can be bound together, not by fate but how peace can be made through harmony.
The plot twists were great, the writing style was great. I truly loved everything about this book.
on 3 June 2014
I read this book because of friends who said it was really good.. but the book its basically just a cute 'love' story, with very little plot. The characters are okay(Park more so than Eleanor) and the relationship is very realistic compared to other books! However, the book just seems a bit boring if I'm honest and the ending was a bit tedious. But if you liked the fault in our stars, which I didn't, you will probably love this book.
on 22 September 2015
I will admit that I was a little hesitant to start this book as in the past, books with a huge hype surrounding them have disappointed me greatly.
THIS WAS AMAZING.
I fell in love with Park right away. He was described so well, the right amount of confidence with a hint of self doubt. I love how he was not the conventional, pretty boy jock but an outsider with an insiders ticket. His parents were so adorable and his father's character was so well written. His development from being constantly frustrated at Park for not being manly enough to acceptance of the way he is just made me all warm and fuzzy.
However, Eleanour was another story. My heart literally ached for her and her family. I just wanted to shake some sense into her mother but I also love the way she was written- a matter that is extremely sensitive was handled by Rowell in such an exquisite manner, she made her characters feel so real and it was just... gah. The things some people go through in day to day life are heart breaking.
I've already mentioned that I love the writing in this book and I think that's largely due to the short chapters. It was fab reading from Park's POV then switching to Eleanor's POV so seamlessly. And I love how Rowell managed to capture the awkward-ness of a first love in such a perfect way- from both POVs!
Overall, the book left me with a real heavy heart and I WISH there was more but I guess leaving a reader wanting more is better than over feeding them.
I'm just so sad it's over UGH.
on 27 March 2014
You know when a story just grabs you and melts your heart, well that is exactly what this story did to me.
This was totally not what I expected from a Young Adult novel; it was a lot more raw and more real than just a teenage love story. I loved it for that reason and I can now understand why so many people have been raving about this book.
I was instantly taken by both Eleanor and Park. They are both such fantastic characters and their features in particular really stood out in my mind; Eleanor with her wild, curly red hair and Park with his spiky black hair and honey hued skin. Their relationship with each other was just so unique and I loved the coarse honesty between the two of them. I loved how we get to see right into what Eleanor and Park are each thinking and what is going on separate to them being at school by the story switching between Eleanor and Park's point of view.
I just kept wanting to pick this up and immerse myself in their world. Despite their difficulties, teenage awkwardness and hardships, I wanted to have what they had. It was utterly heart wrenching and beautiful. Seriously I really hope this is made into a movie, just so so so good!
I wasn't quite sure what to make of the ending though. I think the three words said could have been anything, but I really wish the ending had had more of a finality rather than leaving us wondering what would happen.
But despite that, this was a fantastic, unique story that I completely fell in love with. Rainbow Rowell has made it to my top favourite authors list.
on 15 January 2014
So many people were raving about this book, I had to give it a go myself. And I am so glad I did. I fell in love with the story and the characters as Eleanor and Park fell in love with each other.
Eleanor and Park is completely beautiful. Set in 1986 and full of retro pop culture references, it's a book I want to share with everyone. It's a story full of the sweet tenderness of first love, full of innocence, when simply holding hands was such a big deal. Is a big reminder to appreciate the small things, but also helps you remember the tiny moments of your own romances, the ones full of sweetness. I am completely aware of what a sap I sound, but I don't think a single person could read this book and not have their heart melted.
Eleanor and Park also tackles several serious issues. Both characters have problems with their body image; Eleanor is a bigger girl, and doesn't think she's attractive, and Park is half Korean, and is aware that his Asian looks cause him to stand out. The story also covers issues of bullying, poverty and domestic abuse. Sometimes it can be a little hard hitting, especially when it comes to the domestic abuse, but none of it overshadows the beauty of the romance.
Because it's the 80s, for our young couple, entertainment comes in the form of comics and music, specifically mix tapes. The two strike up a friendship by sharing the two with the other. They bond between the pages and the riffs. I love their geekiness, and how their love grows is just so cute and adorable.
Eleanor and Park is such a beautiful, beautiful story, and I now want to read everything else Rowell writes. With just this one book, I am such a fan! Cannot recommend this novel enough, it's right up their with my favourites!
on 9 July 2012
It's so difficult for me to write a review of a book that I LOVE. It's like, I want to do justice to the book with my review, but feel that I won't be able to, so I put off writing the review. As I write this review of Rainbow Rowell's sophomore effort (her first being the superb "Attachments"), you can bank on the fact that I've gone back and reread, rewritten and reworded this, but I still won't feel I've done Rainbow's book justice. But, here goes:
"Eleanor & Park" tells the story of a school year (1986-87) in the life of the titular characters. The reader gets a bird's-eye view (or should I say bus-eye view) of their first encounter, their getting to know one another to their falling in love. But let me tell you right now: it's not a teen-angsty, cutesy book. Rainbow delves DEEP into the characters of both Eleanor and Park, so much so that they practically jump out of the page and sit next to you to read the book along with you (like E&P's bus ride to school sharing a Watchmen comic).
(*Side note: While there is much talk of comic books and comic-book characters, if you are not a fan of those, please don't let that put you off reading this. I can honestly say I've never read a comic book in my life, except maybe Calvin & Hobbes, and I found this comic element only adds to the story w/o putting off noncomic-book readers. Rainbow uses comic books as a plot advancer, metaphor, comedic element, etc., but it never overpowers or becomes overladen in "geekiness." Trust me, it's cool.)
Rainbow perfectly captures the tentative awkwardness that one feels as a teenager who is isn't quite used to her body, her hormones and the opposite sex. The electricity of that first touch from someone you have feelings for -- hoping upon hope that he feels the same way too -- to one's insecurity with one's body, to the topsy-turvy butterfly stomach of your first kiss, Rainbow expertly plumbs those adolescent depths.
Of course, it's not all unicorns and butterflies in E&P's world -- Eleanor has to deal with some major issues in her home life, as well as being the target of bullies at school. And Park's issues stem from not feeling fully accepted by his macho father, nor his town in general, as (in his mind) he's the only half-American/half-Korean teenage boy in the tristate area who doesn't fit the All-American Boy standard.
I also have to mention E&P's (and Rainbow's) great taste in music. This book's soundtrack will have you rushing to your iTunes account to buy some of these songs that you only had on cassette or vinyl and really want to hear again.
I could go on and on, but I don't want to give away too much. Just know that as you read this book: you will laugh out loud; you will knowingly smile; you will be enraged; you will have butterflies in your stomach; you will take your own trip down memory lane; and most of all, you will wish the story wouldn't end.
After all, Eleanor & Park are human and they needed to be loved, just like everybody else does.
on 14 January 2016
I found the characters & story very poignant although couldn't understand why Eleanor wouldn't let Park & his family help her more. Some bits were not very realistic & the ending was terrible - I just didn't get it, am I missing something? Why would 2 people who were completely obsessed with each other suddenly completely lose contact overnight for no reason??? The book then jumps a year inexplicably & one of them receives a postcard with 3 words?????? Plus what happened to her mother & siblings......why did Tina do all those horrible things to her & then try & help her?? Was enjoying the book but VERY disappointed at the end, felt cheated.