To some books may just be meaningless words on paper. Endless time consuming chores. To me books are an opening to a whole new world. Sometimes it’s a fantasy one, sometimes it’s one that’s closer to reality than we would like it to be. Eleanor & Park is one of the latter. This is one of the few books that made me laugh out loud and- alright I’ll admit it. I cried about two hours over the ending. Eleanor & Park made me feel.
Eleanor is the new kid at school. She’s moving back in with her mom, her mom’s awful husband and her siblings. It’s not easy for Eleanor. They don’t have money to pay for shampoo, toothbrushes, let alone ‘normal’ food and bills. On top of that Eleanor is getting picked on by Tina who calls her ‘big red’, among other names. Eleanor isn’t your typical thin smoothhaired girl. She is chubby and has untamed wild red curls. She’s snarky and always has a comeback. Maybe that’s what Park likes about her. Park, the asian boy on the bus. The one she was forced to sit next to. The one that shows her the world of comics, mixtapes and so much more. But Eleanor knows good things can only last so long.
This is the cover that is used for the edition I bought. It looks beautiful if we’re speaking from a designpoint of view, but what was the publisher thinking? Just look at that topright girl. That’s not Eleanor! Eleanor is chubby and has wild curls. It’s not this stick with straight hair. Did the graphic designer even read the synopsis?! [/RAGE RANT]
Eleanor & Park tells the story of a chubby redhead and a Korean-American boy. It’s not love at first sight by any means. Park thinks Eleanor is weird and Eleanor thinks Park is stupid. Slowly this changes and the two outcasts find comfort in each other’s geekiness.
You know what, lately I was getting fed up with romantic stories. Not just in books, but also in televisionseries. I wrote an article where I confessed that I didn’t fully understand all the ‘shipping’ going on in fandoms (when it goes against character development). Ever since the populair Twilight there has been a huge flood of romantic stories, that in my opinion aren’t executed very well. Why? Because they are in no means realistic. It’s always love at first sight. The ‘heroine’ is always a lovestrucken girl that can’t do anything else but think of the boy she loves. And I know this is a part of falling in love. You are head over heels, but usually there are also feelings of anxiety and pain. It’s not just one positive stream of thoughts that these books tend to focus on, for me there’s also a fear of rejection. I think we’ve all heard the phrase ‘better lovestory than Twilight’ because books like that aren’t realistic. They cater to fantasies we girls sometimes have and quite frankly – I’m getting sick of it.
I thought I wouldn’t care for romantic stories for a long while, but then Eleanor & Park came along. I don’t want to call a book perfect, because that is a word you shouldn’t use to describe every good book that comes along. I think Rainbow Rowell’s novel comes close though. It’s not a perfect lovestory, but it’s a perfect portrayal of a real love. In the light of yesterday’s Valentine’s: I want my own Park! Not because he’s perfect, but because he felt real and cute. And as Eleanor fell in love, as did I.
I also have to mention some quotes. The things Park thinks or says are so cute. But when you’re reading the book they don’t feel sugarcoated. It feels like he means them. What do you think of these quotes?
“Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.” – Park
“I don’t like you, Park,” she said, sounding for a second like she actually meant it. “I…” – her voice nearly disappeared – “think I live for you.”
He closed his eyes and pressed his head back into his pillow.
“I don’t think I even breathe when we’re not together,” she whispered. “Which means, when I see you on Monday morning, it’s been like sixty hours since I’ve taken a breath. That’s probably why I’m so crabby, and why I snap at you. All I do when we’re apart is think about you, and all I do when we’re together is panic. Because every second feels so important. And because I’m so out of control, I can’t help myself. I’m not even mine anymore, I’m yours, and what if you decide that you don’t want me? How could you want me like I want you?”
He was quiet. He wanted everything she’d just said to be the last thing he heard. He wanted to fall asleep with ‘I want you’ in his ears.”
Eleanor goes through extreme situations, but these are things that do happen. And you don’t see them very often in young adult novels. Unfortunately some schoollibraries in America have banished this book, because the word ‘fuck’ is used a lot. There’s also a scene where Park and Eleanor get a little bit of foreplay (but nothing too much). Rainbow Rowell thinks readers of 14 are approriate for this book, but I think it depends on the person. I do however think it’s horrible to ban people from reading a book. I’d go as far to say that all books should be legal, so we humans can learn from it. Eleanor & Park should be a novel that everyone can read, because it shows teens and above that there’s more than fantasies. Yes, there is swearing, violence, kissing and sexual feelings. Rainbow Rowell chose to write about how real love really happens and I think more writers should start doing that.
I’ve read The Subtle Knife before this, but I love Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell so much that I chose to write a review about this first. Have you read this? What did you think? Is there anything like this book you can recommend me? I haven’t read Rainbow’s other books, but.I.must.read.them.
I read this book again in February 2017. You can read my new review here.