Last year, one of the best things that ever happened to me reading-wise was when I read all of Rainbow Rowell’s books. I truly, immensely loved Attachments (because, Lincoln!) and then I read Fangirl during the later part of the year, and even though I didn’t like it as much as I liked Attachments, I was impressed by Rainbow Rowell’s writing style. Last December, I capped 2013 by reading Eleanor & Park with some friends at the book club. Yes, I am now a Rainbow Rowell completist and proud of it!
Eleanor & Park is a bittersweet story of two teenagers — Eleanor and Park (who else?), of how they first met at a school bus, read comics and listened to mixed tapes together, fell in love despite the odds, and struggled to make their relationship work.
What I loved about this book was the prose. It’s so fresh, so young, so…teenager-y, but in a good way. It took me a few chapters before I’d gotten the hang of reading abrupt changes of POV between Eleanor and Park, but these shifts in perspectives was another thing that made me appreciate the book more. Also, 1980s. While reading the book, I had the sudden urge to listen to the songs and artists mentioned in the story (i.e. The Smiths and Joy Division).
Also, Eleanor. Fat with big, red hair. And with a weird sense of fashion. And then there’s Park. The stupid Asian kid who doesn’t know how to drive a stick. It was easy to love the main characters, although I must confess that it had not been that easy for me to relate with them. Maybe because I’m much older than they are and the kilig moments weren’t that kilig for me anymore. And then Park started saying and doing and thinking all these cute things.
Then Park reached up and wrapped one of her red curls around his honey finger.
“Back to missing you,” he said, letting it go.
He didn’t look up. He wound the scarf around his fingers until her hand was hanging in the space between them.
The he slid the silk and his fingers into her open palm.
And Eleanor disintegrated.
Sigh. First love. Young love. Sweet and awkward love.
This is one of the best young-adult books there is, in my opinion. It defies convention by having two misfits as main characters, although I must say that Park’s life is a walk in the park (haha, pun!) compared to what Eleanor had gone through. That is why I understand why Eleanor did what she did at the last part of the story. It might be cowardly, but it was her way of coping with all the bad things that she’s experienced, of trying to make herself whole, before she can wholly love Park.
I would have loved a more open-ended ending. Yes, more open-ended than that ending. But still, a happy ending is a happy ending as I would want to believe and I loved that Eleanor & Park is the right kind of feels and fuzz and warm I wanted for the Christmas season.
She looked up at Park. Into his golden green eyes.
You saved my life, she tried to tell him. Not forever, not for good. Probably just temporarily. But you saved my life, and now I’m yours. The me that’s me right now is yours. Always.
my copy: ebook