Saturday, December 28, 2013

Eleanor & Park

Title:  Eleanor & Park
Author:  Rainbow Rowell
Published:  February 26, 2013; Listening Library (audio), St. Martin's Press (print)
Genre: Young Adult, Romance
Source: Overdrive audiobook through my library system
From Goodreads:
 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 admit that I only picked up this listened to this book because I had read so many positive rave reviews of this book.  The cover also appealed to me.  I love a graphically simple cover.  It makes me think that whatever is inside has got to be good to make up for the lack of busyness.  My library only had the audiobook option available for digital checkout which worked out well for me.  I had a three week deadline to crochet a baby blanket and I listened while I made that. 

     By the way, if you have an Kindle, tablet, smartphone, etc., you should really check out  Overdrive.*  Working with your library network, you have access to a ton of e-books and audiobooks.   I like that I can check out books without changing out of my pajamas or leaving my bed.  The only bummer is that, like your local library, you will probably have to put a hold on the newer, more popular titles. 

     I loved this book so much.  So much that I can't wait to read Fangirl  and Landlines when it comes out.  I believe that Rainbow Rowell is my second favorite author discovery this year.  (First would be Neil Gaiman and sadly I am very late to discover his awesomeness.)  Finding a new-to-me author makes me want to binge read everything they have ever written.  Like the fact that I've worked through five seasons of The Office on Netflix in two weeks.  I need to get out more.

    Being a teenager sucks, especially if you are not part of the popular crowd.   Park has been part of his little part of Omaha since childhood but sits on the fringes of everyone's clique because, I assume, he's part Korean.  He's part of a seemingly normal, happy family even though his father is unnecessarily hard on him because he's not the manly son his dad wants.  Eleanor is new to Park's school, and has a few strikes against her.  She's overweight and obviously poor, based on the way she dresses.  She has an abusive stepfather who once kicked her out of her house.  This makes her a target for the bullying of the more popular girls.

When Park and Eleanor first meet on the school bus, Park found her presence annoying.  Over some time, they developed a friendship thanks to comic books and a shared Walkman.  Eventually, they fall in love and stumble over the milestones of a first teenage relationship.  

This book, while seeming like a easy-peasy first love novel, does cover some serious topics like bullying, body image,  emerging sexuality and abuse.  Rowell brushes along these topics without mucking the story down.  I am surprised that she shied away from how racism would affect the characters.  After all, the hero is half Asian and the heroine's two friends are black.  They live in the Midwest.  I have a hard time believing that in 1986 Omaha, all these high school students are completely color blind.  I'm thinking maybe Rowell didn't want to write about a topic that she is wholly uncomfortable with.

I would definitely recommended this book to teenage girls.  In fact, I may just buy a copy of this for my seventeen year old niece.  Any adult women who enjoys romance would like this because it is a honest depiction of the feelings that first love brings around.  

Buy it:  Amazon  Barnes & Noble

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