Thursday, June 06, 2013

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor and Park, by Rainbow Rowell, is one of those books everyone seems to be reading and discussing. As I admitted on my Armchair BEA introduction video blog, I don't read a ton of YA these days, though it does seem to be on the upswing in my stacks here lately. This book came to my attention mostly through Chris from Stuff as Dreams are Made On, and then Heather read it for the April Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon. 

I'd previously taken notice of the cover, but after reading the premise, I wasn't entirely sold. It sounded like a fairly straightforward teen romance, and that didn't do much for me. In fact, here's the blurb from B and N...

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this 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.
See? A fairly unremarkable blurb, but once I started reading this book and opened my mind a bit, I was immediately pulled in. Eleanor is the new, weird girl in school, and it looks like she'll be tortured on the bus every morning, but Park is "in" with the right crowd just enough to save her from this horrible fate without being a total douchebag himself. He relents and offers her a seat on the bus that first morning, and the rest is a slow unfolding of these characters and their relationship. The awkward silence, the worries about whether six inches of space between them on the bus is enough. The first real breakthrough is when Park realizes Eleanor is reading comic books over his shoulder. Voila! Common ground! And the rest is first love.

The books narration switches back and forth between Eleanor and Park. Sometimes they are long, thoughtful sections, while other times they're short, manic, panicked sections and there might be several switcheroos on a single page.

What really hooked me was the realistic portrayal of these characters. They were quirky, and smart, and observant, and total boneheads at times. Like real teenagers. Or the way I remember it, anyway. The family dynamics for each character also informs their attitudes and approaches to life quite nicely. I worried constantly about Eleanor and her home life. Park's was far better but not without its difficulties.


I might've looked like this when I finished the book.
This book kept me totally invested until the very last page. I was nervous, worried sick, overjoyed (see image above)! And any book that can draw out that much emotion from me is a winner. Truly. Rainbow Rowell is a sensitive, funny, quirky, thoughtful writer, and I can't wait to read more of her stuff. You should also check out her website because it's kinda kickass. I'll just say it. I want to be her friend. BFFs!





Pub. Date: February 2013 
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Format: ARC
ISBN-13: 9781250012579
Source: An ARC that was gifted to me. 



34 comments:

  1. Rainbow Rowell is someone I never even considered reading before the ABEA. Now I think i have to read her and as soon as possible! I don't normally read YA, but i think i will make an exception.
    t

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    1. I wasn't too keen to read her stuff in the beginning either, but ALL the good reviews from bloggers I trust pushed me over the edge, and I'm so so so happy I trusted their judgement. lol

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  2. LOL! Love that photo Andi! Wasn't this book dreamy?? I really do want to check out more of her work.

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    1. LOL, thank you. I couldn't resist! It was totally dreamy, and I can't wait to read more of her stuff. I'm bad about following up and reading additional books by some of my fave authors, but I WILL NOT let that happen here!

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  3. Love this post! I read this book earlier this year and worried about Eleanor so much too. Park is such a wonderful character.

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    1. Thanks, Vasilly! Park is super awesome. I would've totally dated him when I was a kid. And Eleanor. Oh, the tugging at my heartstrings!

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  4. I thought this book was terrific too. I didn't end the way I wanted it too but, after I thought about it, it ended the way it needed to. I adored Park's mother.

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    1. I think so too re: the ending. Not ideal, but pretty realistic and better than some of the alternatives. Park's mother was a hoot!

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  5. Yes to all of this. I was nervous until the very last page. For me, it was a perfect ending. She just captures the angst so well without it verging on annoying or melodramatic. I've read it all the way through once, but I've gone back and read through my favorite parts a few more times. The writing is just excellent.

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    1. Yes, yes, yes! It was a great ending. It made me screech and jump, for heaven's sake! And yes, I thought it was very realistic angst instead of the over-the-top'ness of so many YA novels. So good.

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  6. Finally. I feel better now.

    FYI, if you still have the book, go back and read the prologue.

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    1. LOL, I will. And glad to put your mind at ease.

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  7. Ok! Have just put a hold on the book.... unfortunately I am hold no. 17!

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    1. Oh no! It's worth the wait, though. Promise!

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  8. Yes! I felt the same way going in, but I was blown away. It's the most realistic portrayal of teenage characters I've read maybe ever. Love love love. If you have a slumber party and Rainbow Rowell is there, I want and invite!

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    1. Yes!!! Loved it way more than all those other teen/YA novels they say are realistic. The Perks of Being a Wallflower ain't got nothin' on Eleanor and Park! You're totally invited to the BFF slumber party.

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    1. Yayyy! I hope you love it good like I did!

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  10. YEA! Rainbow is awesome. I read Attachments a couple of years ago and was an instant fan. Plus, she sent me some cool Attachments notes and paper clips after we connected on Twitter. She's just all-around cool.

    I really liked Eleanor & Park and only read it because I liked Attachments and Rowell so much. Glad I did. It was fantastic.

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    1. That is SO COOL re: Attachments swag. She seems really cool, and I think I already followed her on Twitter, but I need to make sure.

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  11. I feel like I'm the only one who hasn't read this, but it will be happening this summer, I promise! YA had me so disgruntled last year and the beginning of this year that I was truly ready to give up. But recently, I've read some real winners and it sounds like this one will be another great selection!

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  12. That does it. I'm buying this book right now! (seriously)

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  13. Rainbow Rowell has some awesome covers for her books!

    Ana reviewed this one the other day and now you reviewing it makes me want it even more! Like you, the blurb does not really move me at all- but hey, if it is executed well... :)

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  14. It really does seem like everyone is reading this book! You've definitely convinced me to read it though just by the picture at the end :) It's a must read now!

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  15. I don't read much YA either but this one is on my wish list. I can only hope to like it s much as you seem to in your pic :)

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  16. I loved this book! Rainbow Rowell is definitely a writer to watch. This one was like poetry. Glad you enjoyed it.

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  17. OMG - love your pic! :)
    I have this book on hold at the library - can't wait!

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  18. I feel like I know Rainbow after reading her column during her two stints as a columnist for the Omaha paper. So fun to see her doing so well with her books! I must get this one soon, clearly.

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  19. I'm reading Attachments and loving it. I really can't wait to try this one.

    Great review.

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  20. I just finished it. I loved it so much! Her characters feel so real.

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  21. Well with a stunning review like that how can I not immediately add this to my TBR list? I've been trying to shy away from YA lately but I keep getting drawn back in.

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  22. I just purchased this book for our writing center. One of our tutors gave this a thumbs down, so I'm glad to hear you loved it. I'll be reading it soon. Thanks for the review.

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  23. I have never been so excited for a hand hold in my entire life. I felt like I was going to explode with happiness and this was the most magical part of the book.

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