Title: Eleanor & Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Published by: St. Martin’s Griffin
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
In-Series/Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Two misfits. One extraordinary love. 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.
“She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.”
I strongly believe that nobody should write about teenagers if they themselves don’t remember what it was like to be young and in love. Rainbow Rowell remembers. She captured falling in love for the first time beautifully through this book – from the excitement and exhilaration, the pain and the joy, the heartbreak and the anger, to the frustration and longing that comes with it. I’m kind of bias when it comes to Rainbow Rowell, though, because I love ALL her books – she just has such a unique writing style and she knows how to tell a good story.
The book starts out with Eleanor, the new girl in school, getting on the bus for the first time and having nowhere and nobody to sit with. When no one steps up to help her out, a certain boy caves in and scoots over in his seat so she can sit down. And thus begins the ride on one hell of a rollercoaster. I absolutely loved the dual point of view throughout the book – being in both Park and Eleanor’s heads was very enjoyable, needless to say. These characters are so tragically wounded yet beautifully flawed. They’re so different, but so similar. Eleanor comes from a broken home – quite literally, in the sense. Park, on the other hand, has grown up surrounded by loving family and friends. You’d think that if these two separate worlds collided, there’d be an explosion of some sort and you wouldn’t be able to make out the outcome through the chaos. But it’s actually the opposite – these two worlds… this unlikely pairing find themselves falling hard for one another; and along with it, a bond like no other is formed. I think it’s very rare for a high school romance to become something more; let alone go on to become a rare and beautiful thing that lasts forever. Eleanor and Park are the exception – it seems to me like this high school love story is one that will continue through the years, and will only grow stronger with time.
Most love stories tend to have a similar vibe – perfect guy, perfect girl, perfect love, and perfect world. That wasn’t the case with Eleanor & Park. Eleanor and Park are exceptionally ordinary. They aren’t perfect in any way shape or form, but that’s exactly what made this story come to life. It’s relatable, applicable to our own lives. If you’re looking for a light, intriguing, pull-at-your-heartstrings-and-leave-you-happy-crying kinda book to read, I’d definitely recommend this one!
“Holding Eleanor’s hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like holding something complete, and completely alive.”
“…I love your name. I don’t want to cheat myself out of a single syllable.”
“I want everyone to meet you. You’re my favorite person of all time.”
“You think that holding someone hard will bring them closer. You think that you can hold them so hard that you’ll still feel them, embossed on you, when you pull away.”
“What are the chances you’d ever meet someone like that? he wondered. Someone you could love forever, someone who would forever love you back? And what did you do when that person was born half a world away? The math seemed impossible.”
*Note: My favorite Eleanor & Park fan-art, which can also be found in the Exclusive Collector’s Edition:
*DISCLAIMER* If you have not read this book yet, I’d really recommend not going through the comments section in case there’s a spoiler. You can always come back here later to discuss after you’ve read the book! (Or contact me if you want to talk about it beforehand)