Okay, this is a pretty well-known book and you are probably wondering why the hell would I even bother writing a review. I just feel so deeply in love with this book, more than I have with any other book in a while, that I just couldn’t resist.
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell is about, well, Eleanor and Park, two misfit teenagers who fall madly in love. Eleanor has the most striking red hair and always wears the wrong clothes. Park is somewhat of an inbetweener in school whose head is turned by Eleanor and whose life will never be the same again.
I am not so much into the YA genre. Well, I say that but keep discovering books from the genre I love so maybe I shouldn’t make that statement anymore. Anyway, I initially though Eleanor and Park would be too childish for me but decided to read it regardless considering all the hype around it. I was so shocked at how this book made me feel emotionally and I envy those who get to read it for the first time.
Romance is certainly the main focus of the story but it is in no way overbearing. Some teenage love stories can leave me with a nauseous feeling because they are too sickly sweet. This was a very realistic account of first love and teenage life and instead of being thankful I was well past that phase, it had me looking back fondly on that time in my life. It is hard to find a teenage love story that does that. The only other one I can remember is Gus and Hazel from The Fault in Our Stars.
I absolutely loved Eleanor because she reminded me of myself in ways. A bit of an outcast and socially awkward, and trying to live my most individual life without being bothered by the opinions of others (not always succeeding, mind you). She also brought out the motherly side of me. There was a sad element to Eleanor’s life and a lot of the time she was the underdog. I wanted to hug and protect her from the world while being her biggest cheerleader at the same time. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Park too. He is such a sweet, thoughtful boy, but there was just something special about Eleanor for me.
One other element of the book which made it a great read was the story of Richie, Eleanor’s stepdad. No spoilers here other to say that his impact was subtle but enough to evoke strong emotion.
If you haven’t already read Eleanor and Park, please do. If you have, please come and have a chat with me in the comments or on Twitter. I need to have a good ol’ debate on this!