12/09/2013

Review: Eleanor & Park {Rainbow Rowell}



 
Eleanor, with her terrible home-life, mismatched clothes and unruly red hair, couldn't stick out more if she tried. Park, at the back of the bus, black t-shirt, headphones, and his nose always in a comic, couldn't try to be more invisible.

Slowly, through comic books and an ever-growing stack of mix tapes, Eleanor and Park fall into first love. The way you fall when you're young and feel as if you have nothing, yet everything, to lose.
 
http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0062347047?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creativeASIN=0062347047&linkCode=xm2&tag=litbirboo-21http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0062347047?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creativeASIN=0062347047&linkCode=xm2&tag=litbirboo-21 

I have this teeny obsession with all things 80s and so the fact that this is set in the 80s cemented my love before I turned the first page. But then this book did something great, it earned a place on my bookshelf. Because it was too awesome not to.

Rainbow Rowell writes such a tantalisingly slow and well-built up romance that I stayed up until it was morning, reading and reading, desperate to watch the fantastic growth between Eleanor and Park. Their relationship reminded me of that John Green quote: 'I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, then all at once'. In fact, that's exactly what it was like. A steady, tense build and then suddenly they were in each other's life and every moment was so important. It was amazingly done.

But this book isn't just a love story, it's a rebellion. Against how unfair the world can be and against all the clouds hiding silver linings. It's about two teenagers fighting for what they want, not what they're destined to have or what other people expect them to be.

Eleanor's story is the most heartbreaking. Her mother is a deluded mess, married to one of the worst humans on the planet, and Eleanor was kicked out by said moron for months. Now that she's finally home, she shares a room with her four siblings and finds her bathroom also happens to be the kitchen and has no door. So she has to sneak baths when her step dad is out, with her mum standing guard to make sure he doesn't run in and take a peek or something. It's horrible

But I did love the way Eleanor wasn't the typical YA heroine. She was genuinely screwed up and wasn't stereotypically pretty. In fact, when Park's mum 'beautified' her, she didn't like it because she didn't feel like herself. Which was great. But then sometimes Eleanor really annoyed me. She was overly defensive and, despite knowing she had walls for a reason, I kind of wanted to smack her. Her character was both so easy to empathise with and simultaneously so hard to understand. 

As for Park, he was one of the most fantastic boys I've read about. He had none of the usual background stories a lot of boys in YA seem to have; he was, was a music-mad, taekwondo master with one hell of a kick.

He doesn't fall in love with Eleanor when he first sees her (he would rather she stay the heck away from him). But after seeing how lonely she is, he lends her his headphones so she can listen to bands she's only ever dreamed of, and his comics so she can experience the magic of fantastic worlds.

Park managed to make hand holding seem like the hottest, most romantic thing in the world. He also does everything in his power to save Eleanor from her family and I loved his determination to help her, even if it meant losing her.

I know some people have had issues with the ending, but I thought it was perfect. Things worked out, even if it wasn't how I thought. And Rainbow Rowell's last lines left me with a whole heap of hope for what's to come.

 
I have to commend Rowell for her great characters and unwaveringly realistic dialogue. She wasn't afraid to write how teenagers really think and talk and it made this so much more authentic. Plus she touched upon fantastic issues like gender neutrality and I loved her for that.

"She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn't supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something."


 
 

Allie is a Pimm's-obsessed reader, who dreams of road tripping over America, learning to surf & becoming fluent in all the languages of her heritage (which, sadly, does not include Elvish). If she's not reading or blogging, you can find her catching up on Teen Wolf, or reigning supreme with Scrabble/Mario Kart.
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15 comments:

  1. I love that Park is such an original male lead in YA. I'm tired of seeing the same background stories. I'm definitely going to read this one if I like Rowell's writing in Fangirl. Great review, Allie!

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    1. Rainbow Rowell did such a great job with this, I'm excited to see what Fangirl is like, especially since it's something entirely different! I'd love to know what you think once you've read it, as I'm planning on checking it out soon :)

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  2. The slow romance build up sounds amazing!

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  3. That's a wonderful quote! I finally bought this one a couple weeks ago, so I really need to start reading it soon. Especially since I want to read Fangirl by this author too.

    I love that you called this story not just a love story, but a rebellion. Beautifully stated. :)

    Lauren from www.shootingstarsmag.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks Lauren!
      This really was a beautiful book, so I hope you start reading it soon and fall in love just like I did. The mix tapes alone are a reason enough to adore this haha

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  4. I also really enjoyed Eleanor & Park. I totally agree with you about Park. He is totally my favourite character! Great quote choice and awesome review :)

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  5. I loved this book when I read it back in May. It was such a simple cute love story but it ended up being so memorable. The characters were unbeliavbly realistic and the book touched upon so many HEAVY subject without any of them being thrown in your face. Great review! :)
    Lily @ Lilysbookblog

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    1. The characters just MADE this book, didn't they? I loved Park's first impression of Eleanor too - definitely not love at first sight hehe, unlike most YA romance books!

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  6. I like how you said it was a rebellion as well :) I've been curious about this one! Great review!

    Janina @ Synchronized Reading

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    1. Hopefully I've piqued your curiosity a little more and you check it out :) It really is a great story to read!

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  7. Sounds like a wonderful, thought-provoking realistic novel! I really want to read Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl book too, but good to hear this one was worth a shot. I need to add it to my TBR :)

    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

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  8. This is one of those books that I've heard a lot about, but never picked up. I think I will have to check it out soon because it does sound great!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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  9. I think everyone should have some kind of obsession with things to do with the eighties. The cover got me on this book, but your review sold me. I love heroines that aren't beautiful.

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    1. In my book, if you don't like the 80s then we can't be friends haha.

      Eleanor is definitely not the typical 'beautiful gal' and I loved that too. She's an outcast and she looks like one. It's so much more believable than a beautiful girl with glasses being the biggest nerd ever :/

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  10. I have heard so many people love this one! I own it and haven't yet gotten a chance to read it yet. I'm glad that this book left such an impression on you!

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