Thursday, August 29, 2013

Eleanor & Park & Me

I cannot fully articulate how much I love this book. However, I’ll do my best because I want to encourage everyone I meet to read Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell.

Park is a sixteen year old half-Korean kid in Omaha, Nebraska. He’s not the most popular kid in school, but he manages to keep himself off the lowest rungs of the social ladder. What he doesn’t need is someone like Eleanor dragging him down. 

Eleanor is the new girl in school. She’s big and redheaded and wears thrift shop men’s shirts with scarves tied around her wrists. She might as well have a bulls-eye painted on her back as well.

Park is hesitant to associate with her when they meet on the bus, but soon they bond over an interest in comic books, good music, and their mutual strangeness. Before long, Eleanor and Park cannot be without one another. 

Eleanor, whose home life is fraught with anxiety as she and her siblings do everything they can to avoid the wrath of their abusive stepfather, wants to lose herself in Park. Park with his green eyes and “skin the color of sunshine through honey.” His touch makes all of the nerve endings in her skin catch fire. His touch makes her disintegrate. 

Park feels like he can be more himself with her. When he looks at Eleanor, he does and doesn’t see what everyone else sees. “She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.” He just gets her.

One of my favorite aspects of this book is that Eleanor isn’t nice. I know that sounds weird, but I feel like too often when young adult books focus on an awkward, outcast female character, they overcompensate by giving her an angelic, doe-eyed disposition (I’m thinking of Aimee in Tim Tharp’s The Spectacular Now as an example of this). I think there’s societal pressure on girls/women to be pleasant and smile all the time, so I really appreciate Rowell allowing Eleanor be herself without having to be nice. She’s funny and caring and that’s enough.

I love this book because it reminds me what it was like to be sixteen years old again – in a good way. It reminded me how intense and emotional every day could be. Every day lasted a lifetime. Every day was the end of the world. Every day could be the best day ever.

Just pick up this book; I promise you won’t be disappointed. 

Need another emotionally gripping read? Try Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why.
You may also like It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini.

~Meredith T.

Addendum from Cailey: Read it now. Seriously.

1 comment:

  1. This is a really impassioned review. I especially like the paragraph in toward the end in which you reflect on your own recollection of the urgency of being 16. I don't generally read YA, but in this case I could be persuaded.