Collins, Bailey: Book Review Q1

Screen Shot 2013-10-25 at 10.35.49 AM
Screen Shot 2013-10-25 at 10.35.49 AM

The Awkward Type

‘Eleanor and Park’ By Rainbow Rowell

When I first began reading the book Eleanor and Park, I expected it to be a story about love and music. I never expected the rest. I bought the book because my teacher rated it five stars. So it must be great. She was right. I am not one to read stories about teenage love. Most of my book choices are about people with psychological issues. Reading about teenage love always felt so cliché. Every little girl wants to fall in love and have a perfect life, but I never believed in love like this book made me believe. This book truly captured the imperfect side of love. Where it is unintentional, straining, and very awkward.

Eleanor and Park is a fictional novel written by Rainbow Rowell. This is Rainbow Rowell’s first novel for young adults. It is a story with love, misfits, and great music references.

and the most incredible descriptions of how love truly is. The book is set in 1986, and spans from September and through the school year.

Eleanor is the main character. Eleanor has bright red hair. She is chubby and pasty white with freckles all over. She is also made fun of by the popular kids in school for her hair, being visibly poor, dressing like a boy, and because she is a bigger girl, but not fat, more curvy. Eleanor has three brothers and one sister. They are all younger than her. Her stepfather is Richie. This book begins when she is moving back to her mother’s house because her stepfather kicked her out a year before. This man is the antagonist. He is scary, but in a deadbeat, always drunk, cursing at small children for wetting the bed and screaming at his wife who is crying because she is just afraid, type of scary. None of them can get away though.

Park was a very innocent character. His examples of love were so powerful, unlike Eleanor’s examples. His mother is from Korea and his father was stationed in Korea after the Vietnam War. They fell in love and he brought her back to America. Park’s parents are still in love and they are just always happy with each other. Rainbow Rowell does an excellent way of showing all of the different “types” of love that can be. Park is the weird kid on the bus, who wears black clothes and listens to punk music. He isn’t made fun of for being different because he has lived in the neighborhood his whole life and in the 6th grade he dated the popular girl.

Eleanor and Park meet on the school bus. She was lost and nobody wanted to sit next to the new girl that had fake pearls on and patched up jeans. Park just curses at her to sit down though. It takes months for them to have any type of conversation. They sit quietly and try so hard to not make eye contact. One day, Park realizes that Eleanor is reading his comics over his shoulder. He starts bringing her other comics to read. He gives her stacks and she always brings them back smelling like a field of roses. On the day that Park forgets to grab the stack of comics for her is the first day they say anything to each other. They begin talking about music.

“You can be Han Solo," he said, kissing her throat. "And I'll be Boba Fett. I'll cross the sky for you.” This is a quote from the book. I want to explain my reaction to just this line. I read this quote before I got to where it was in the book because of a website called ‘Goodreads.’ I was reading a review and I knew that I needed to read this book because of this line. The way that Rowell writes this line made me so excited. The reference is from Star Wars. A few times during the book, Eleanor and Park talk about Star Wars, and how they’re love is like that. I knew that I needed to read this book because this “nerd love” is the best kind of relationship to me. I fell in love before I began reading. This book is stocked full of these very graphic descriptions. Most are about the love story and I swooned at every one. Rowell gave the same power in her descriptions of everything that you didn’t know could scare you or make you want to cry.

This book was just incredible to me. I felt everything that both characters were feeling. I cried when the book ended because all I wanted to do was read more and have their story live on forever. Everytime Park had to remind Eleanor how he felt about her, I fell in love and wished I could find this fictional character and have him love me. These two characters are very awkward. They aren’t outgoing and they try to stay invisible, or just be. When they meet, sit together, and finally speak, they are noticed by everyone. The hand-holding between Eleanor and Park is written so intense. Park says, “Holding Eleanor's hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like holding something complete, and completely alive.” Rainbow Rowell did an incredible job of writing about this type of love and the only part of the book that fell short was how it ends. I won’t give it away though. I just wanted the book to go on forever.

In the New York Times, John Greene wrote in his review, “Eleanor & Park reminded me not just what it’s like to be young and in love with a girl, but also what it’s like to be young and in love with a book.” I am young, and I don’t have a very good understanding of what love will be like when I find it, but I know exactly what it is like to fall in love with a book, and I can’t wait to reread this book and fall in love all over again. Mark Twain once said, “Books are for people who wish they were somewhere else.” This quote spoke true while I was reading Eleanor and Park. Rainbow Rowell creates an excellent picture that engages the reader so deeply that they forget about the real world and their life is in this novel.

The day after I finished reading Eleanor & Park, I immediately began reading her book ‘Attachments’. I am not very far into the book, I know that it is a struggle to get into this book because it isn’t much like Eleanor and Park besides also being a love story. Being a teenager, I find it so much easier to read about people my own age. It gives me a better connection so I can feel like I am in the book and this is my other life.

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell.

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press.

Published: February 2013.

328 pages.

Work of fiction.