Eleanor & Park
by Rainbow Rowell
Overview (from B&N.com):
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 16.
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, 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.
My Thoughts: In yesterday’s post, I mentioned that I like books about people that are obviously more screwed up than I am. As it turns out, this blanket statement isn’t always true. I will also freely admit, right here and now, that I do not understand the fixation on the whole high school sweetheart love story.
First off, the conversation that’s in the overview doesn’t even happen in the book (had to get that out of my system, it was driving me nuts). I read Eleanor & Park based on recommendations from a few different people, mainly touting the author (Rainbow Rowell). I was kind of worried I wouldn’t like it because it states that it takes place in 1986. I really didn’t notice that throughout, other than the band and song references (new then, oldies now).
The writing was quite good. I really don’t have any complaints about grammar or style. I actually liked the author’s writing style. I really loved how she switched back and forth between Eleanor and Park’s point of view. It made the story a little more intriguing to see their relationship from each person’s eyes.
I did not like the subject matter. The entire time I was thinking how much Eleanor’s life sucked. Then the author added a component that wasn’t exactly out of left field, but that I would deem creepy (not going to spoil it for you). It really came down to the fact that I can sympathize with situations like this, but I can’t empathize so I don’t truly understand them.
There was something that really irked me at the very end of Eleanor & Park and I just can’t seem to let it go. “It wasn’t a letter. It was a postcard. Park flipped it over. Written in Eleanor’s scratchy scrawl were three words.” That’s how it freaking ended. What were the three words?! I may be the only one bothered by this, but it has been bothering me way more than it should.
I actually read a few reviews before reading Eleanor & Park. There’s one that sticks out in my mind. A woman said that Rowell really captured the experience of love while you’re in high school. The intensity of it all. I half agree. She captured a lot of what’s true. How urgent and intense every crush or relationship feels. However, there were a lot of parts that were just really weird. Eleanor mentions more than once how she wants to bite Park’s face off. She also notes on a cold morning that she can see his breath and just wants to breathe him in. I don’t remember ever thinking or feeling these things in high school. In fact I thought those descriptions were slightly alarming and that first one was bordering on cannibalistic.
In the end, I just didn’t like Eleanor & Park. It was not my cup of tea. Therefore, I would not recommend it.
2 out of 5 Bookmarks = I didn’t like it, but I’m still interested in reading something else by this author.