2015 Book #50 – Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

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Title: Eleanor & Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Date finished: 5/27/15
Genre: Young adult – romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: February 26, 2013
Pages in book: 325
Stand alone or series: Stand alone

Blurb from the cover:

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.

My rating: 4.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book will be counting towards my goal for the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge 2015 checklist under the “a book set in high school” check box since it is in fact about two high school students. I had heard a lot of good things about this book and after reading Fangirl recently, I definitely wanted to get my hands on this one. I saw it a couple weeks ago at my local library and snatched it right up. Almost from the very beginning I was hooked on this book. I have to be honest in saying that I find some young adult romance novels overwhelmingly frustrating because everything is so angst-y all the time and it ends up feeling like the characters are just whining a lot. I have never in my life before had a book make me feel what this book did. I had a high school love, most people do, and even if you didn’t necessarily have a love, most people have felt the thrill of having a crush. Does he like me too? And then once you think he does, there is the thrill of the first time he holds your hand and the first time you kiss and just the thrill of being young and in love. This book dug deep inside my memory banks and brought back all those feelings I experienced in high school to the forefront. It really was astounding for me.
Eleanor has a lot of family issues (Park has some too I guess but Eleanor has way more and they’re more serious) that are discussed in the book. An abusive stepdad, a mom that won’t stand up for herself or her 5 children, an absentee dad, I could just go on and on. She doesn’t have a toothbrush until halfway through the book for goodness sake. Eleanor’s life and her family as it is described in book added a darkness to the book. The harshness of Eleanor’s life really was a great contrast to the joy and light blossoming inside her as she develops her relationship with Park. I mean her home life is awful and I was frustrated with her mom for pretty much the entire book but the fact that Eleanor was able to trust Park was unexpected and it shows how her character grows throughout the novel.
Overall I very much liked this book. I couldn’t put it down, it was one of those that sucks you in and two hours you look up and think “where am I?” The feelings that will consume you while reading this book are overwhelming, so just be prepared. They’re good feels though so don’t panic. The characters both grew a lot in the novel, Park specifically learned that you shouldn’t care what everyone else thinks, which I think was a great life-lesson for him. There are many parts of their relationship that seemed so realistic, especially for high school students, like Park being embarrassed about the way Eleanor dresses only because of how other people think of it. The ending I think is as it should be but I can see how some might like a more neat and defined ending. I like to think that in the future, Eleanor and Park end up together forever and get married and are happy throughout their marriage like Park’s parents.

The bottom line: I would definitely recommend this book. Falling in love for the first time all over again is not something that can usually be duplicated, but this book does a damn good job. Go buy it now, you want to have these emotions!

Link to author website
Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

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