Author: Rainbow Rowell
Age Group: Young Adult
Publication Date: February 26, 2013 by St. Martin's Press
Source: Given to me as a gift. Thanks, Dad and Mike!
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.
Find Eleanor & Park online
My Review: After reading and falling in love with Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, I knew I had to find more by this author. Of course, the first novel that came to mind was this one! I'd heard so much praise surrounding it so, even though I was a little wary because of the rising mountain that was my expectations, I decided to give it a try. I am seriously so happy that I did. This is a novel that I know will stick with me for a long time. Filled with tough familial situations, slow developing relationships, and characters that have forever been branded in my heart, Eleanor & Park is a story that I'm glad I gave a chance.
I didn't know what I thought would happen when I went into this novel but what I got was definitely different but much better than what I had been expecting. It broke away from the norms of the young adult genre and I loved that. There was no insta-love or even insta-attraction between these characters. The way their relationship developed was slow burning and real. As I read, I could feel Eleanor and Park's feelings for another slowly growing. It was a gradual process and allowed us time to meet and become properly acquainted with our characters who come from very different worlds.
Eleanor does not have a good family life at all. She was basically kicked out of her home only to return a year later (when this story starts off) to a family that has been drastically changed and is being controlled by her evil step father. They are suffering from poverty and trying to care for Eleanor's many younger brothers and sisters so she's far down on the list of priorities. Seeing her in this situation was very painful. She tried so hard to hide her feelings about how terrible it was. Still, considering her age and the unfairness of the life she had been given, she handled things very well. Of course, it was still extremely hard on her and the way she was treated by other people didn't help.
Park's life was the complete opposite. He had a loving mother, a father that, while harsh at times, still cared, and only one brother. They were comfortable financially and he had friends. Even still, his life wasn't ideal. He dealt with things that were maybe not as hard as what Eleanor was dealing with but were still hard all the same. I could relate a lot more with Park but sympathized and felt more for Eleanore. Seeing them finally come together was amazing and heart warming. I absolutely adored the way they slowly got to talking; it was unbelievably cute and sweet. But their friendship and relationship always held a undertone of danger. They were never fully free to express their feelings for each other in public because of the possible consequences with Eleanor's step father.
Plot wise, this story had a lot going on but it never felt rushed. A lot of it was steps they were taking in their relationship and Eleanore trying to handle the problems with her family. I wanted to savor every moment I had with these characters but I truthfully just couldn't stop myself from flying through the pages. I was unable to put it down. The ending was bittersweet. I knew from the beginning something like that would end up happening and it hurt. I cried hard for these characters. But even when things looked completely bleak, there was still a small glimmer of hope.
Eleanor & Park should be a novel that everyone has on their to-be-read list. If not for the amazing writing style and characters then for the lessons and themes throughout. I can't wait to read more of Rainbow Rowell's works.
“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.”