Some of my bookish besties were talking/discussing/raving about this book in an email the other day, right before the readathon, so on a whim, I bought it. I read it during the readathon, with barely stopping to eat, go to the bathroom, and even doing my hosting duties. Yes, it is that good. Thank you Chris and Ana.
Now, onto what it’s about. Besides being about awesomeness.
Gosh. Where do I start? I know! The summary!
”Bono met his wife in high school,” Park says.
“So did Jerry Lee Lewis,” Eleanor answers.
“I’m not kidding,” he says.
“You should be,” she says, “we’re sixteen.”
“What about Romeo and Juliet?”
“Shallow, confused, then dead.”
”I love you,” Park says.
“Wherefore art thou,” Eleanor answers.
“I’m not kidding,” he says.
“You should be.”
Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.
Hmm…that doesn’t really say enough. Okay. The book starts on the school bus. Park, half-Korean fan of comics and punk and New Wave, is listening to music, pointedly ignoring the clueless bullies behind him, when on walks Eleanor. The New Girl. Eleanor immediately stands out for her red hair, her odd clothing, her size, and by the fact that she can’t seem to find a seat. Finally, out of impatient kindness, Park lets her sit beside him. Days of silence between the two stretch on until one day, Park notices something. Eleanor is reading the comics in his lap. Slowly, their relationship deepens to conversation, and then feelings. Oh, the feelings.
Eleanor’s home life is heartbreaking. She shares a room with her four siblings. They are forced to tiptoe around their violent step-father. Her mother turns a blind eye to the things happening right under her nose. Park, and the world he represents, becomes Eleanor’s haven. Things are not good for Eleanor, except for her relationship with Park. Told in alternating voices, it is impossible to not fall in love with Eleanor and Park, separately and together. They are, to be cliché (which they hate), quite adorable.
And I don’t want to say much more than that. I went into this book not knowing much more than the summary above and that my readerly friends loved this book. Hopefully you will trust me as much as I trusted them. Rainbow Rowell’s writing is exquisite. I loved every syllable of this novel. She pulled me in, she kept me there, and she made me reluctant to leave. She took what could be misconstrued as a typical young adult romance and made it into so. much. more. And she gave me Eleanor. So tough. So fragile. And Park. So kind. Two teens with so many awkward, typical teenager tropes, and made you fall in love with them. Hopelessly.
“I love you,” he said.
She looked up at him, her eyes shiny and black, then looked away. “I know,” she said.
He pulled one of his arms out from under her and traced her outline against the couch. He could spend all day like this, running his hand down her ribs, into her waist, out to her hips and back again…. If he had all day, he would. If she weren’t made of so many other miracles.
“You know?” he repeated. She smiled, so he kissed her. “You’re not the Han Solo in this relationship, you know.”
“I’m totally the Han Solo,” she whispered. It was good to hear her. It was good to remember it was Eleanor under all this new flesh.
“Well, I’m not the Princess Leia,” he said.
“Don’t get so hung up on gender roles,” Eleanor said.”
“You can be Han Solo,” he said, kissing her throat. “And I’ll be Boba Fett. I’ll cross the sky for you.”
“What do you want to show me?”
“Nothing, really. I just want to be alone with you for a minute.”
He pulled her to the back of the driveway, where they were almost completely hidden by a line of trees and the RV and the garage.
“Seriously?” she said. “That was so lame.”
“I know,” he said, turning to her. “Next time, I’ll just say, ‘Eleanor, follow me down this dark alley, I want to kiss you.’”
She didn’t roll her eyes. She took a breath, then closed her mouth. He was learning how to catch her off guard.
She pushed her hands deeper in her pockets, so he put his hands on her elbows. “Next time,” he said, “I’ll just say, ‘Eleanor, duck behind these bushes with me, I’m going to lose my mind if I don’t kiss you.’”
She didn’t move, so he thought it was probably okay to touch her face. Her skin was as soft as it looked, white and smooth as freckled porcelain.
“I’ll just say, ‘Eleanor, follow me down this rabbit hole…’”
He laid his thumb on her lips to see if she’d pull away. She didn’t. He leaned closer. He wanted to close his eyes, but he didn’t trust her not to leave him standing there.”
Title: Eleanor & Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
I got it from Barnes & Noble with my own monies.