Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Best for: Young adults who want a love story that isn’t as absurd as Romeo and Juliet but that doesn’t discount their feelings.
In a nutshell: Eleanor comes from a fucked-up home. Park does not. Both are a bit outcast-y. Events transpire.
Worth quoting: “When Eleanor was around girls like that — like Park’s mom, like Tina, like most of the girls in the neighborhood — she wondered where they put their organs. Like, how could you have a stomach and intestines and kidneys, and still wear such tiny jeans?”
Why I chose it: I didn’t realize how many of the most popular CBR books I’d already read. I was sort of avoiding this one as it wasn’t appealing to me, but ultimately I’m glad I read it.
Review: This is a very quick read. I got it from the library on Wednesday and finished it Thursday night. Given its popularity, I think there probably isn’t that much more for me to say. But I’ll try…
The writing is good, but even though this is such a thoroughly character-driven book, I felt that the characters weren’t that well developed. Am I alone on this? Probably. We seemed to get some more interesting information about these two people prior to them meeting, but it mostly came in the last 10% of the book. I suppose the author was going for just a slice of life, but still, I wanted to know more about Eleanor especially, beyond just not liking how she looks.
I also appreciate that Ms. Rowell treated young relationships with such care — she doesn’t condescend, she doesn’t doubt their feelings. She explores them. And that’s pretty awesome.
I also like the very, very end. I know it is controversial for some people, but I like it. My copy has an author note where Ms. Rowell addresses this controversy, and I totally got her reasoning. I thought it was pretty cool.