Monday, April 29, 2013

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Release date: February 26, 2013
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pages: 325
Format: Ebook
Source: Purchased
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
"Bono met his wife in high school," Park says.
"So did Jerry Lee Lewis," Eleanor answers.
"I’m not kidding," he says.
"You should be," she says, "we’re sixteen."
"What about Romeo and Juliet?"
"Shallow, confused, then dead."
''I love you," Park says.
"Wherefore art thou," Eleanor answers.
"I’m not kidding," he says.
"You should be."

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – 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'll be the first to admit I have not been the biggest fan of contemporary YA. But, interestingly, I have found myself drawn to more and more contemporary novels. I'm wondering if I've gotten a little worn out on all of the things I normally read and am just looking for something new. Anyways, I like to think I would've liked this book just as much were I not so attracted to contemporaries recently. Eleanor & Park is a truly lovely story of first love, heartbreak, and acceptance.

It's 1986, and Eleanor has just moved back in with her mom, her mom's husband Richie, and her four younger siblings in Omaha, Nebraska. Eleanor is not typical. She has curly red hair, is far from being a size two, and dresses colorfully. When she meets Park, an on the fringes half-Korean boy, they bond over comic books and music, which propels them quickly into one another's hearts. Even when they know they won't last, they dare to hope for a future together.

I fell in love with Eleanor and Park quickly and deeply. Eleanor is broken, with her insecurities and her tragic life, but she's witty and sarcastic, and wishes so badly to change her lot in life. Park has worked for so long to be accepted by his friends, but finds that he doesn't need their acceptance when Eleanor is around. To be cheesy, they complete one another. Each brings out the best in the other.

I loved seeing the slow progress of their relationship. It's filled with mutual respect, love, and a bit of lust. At times they're awkward with one another, exploring new facets of a relationship they've never experienced. It felt very true and natural to me; every word didn't seem perfect, every action wasn't the exactly right thing, but that's life.

It's hard for me to have especially high expectations for books that everyone gushes over, but Eleanor & Park definitely deserves gushing. It is the epitome of contemporary YA, keeping true to life while giving a heartfelt story.

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