Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell | Book Review
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell was originally published in 2012 by Orion Books.
Eleanor is the new girl in town, and she’s never felt more alone. All mismatched clothes, mad red hair and chaotic home life, she couldn’t stick out more if she tried.
Then she takes the seat on the bus next to Park. Quiet, careful and – in Eleanor’s eyes – impossibly cool, Park’s worked out that flying under the radar is the best way to get by.
Slowly, steadily, through late-night conversations and an ever-growing stack of mix tapes, Eleanor and Park fall in love. They fall in love the way you do the first time, when you’re 16, and you have nothing and everything to lose.
Set over the course of one school year in 1986, Eleanor and Park is funny, sad, shocking and true – an exquisite nostalgia trip for anyone who has never forgotten their first love.
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell is a breath of fresh air. I picked this book up at a time when I needed to be reminded of the magic of words and how good, meaningful stories can help you. I needed to be reminded that they can motivate you to begin again with hope and faith. Eleanor and Park helped me fall back in love with reading again.
Okay, we are so moving on to the actual review now!
The coming of age tale of Eleanor and Park is beautifully woven with strands of first love, hope, and heartbreak.
The story that begins over a bus ride to school then develops into something else entirely. First day nerves and apprehension eventually dissolve into a tentative friendship and companionship. Their love for reading and music blossoms into a love for each other as well. Since the book is set in the ’80s, mixtapes are involved. *swoons*
As Eleanor and Park get to know each other, they also begin to explore who they are and how they fit into the world. The feeling of “otherness” or feeling different is a constant theme throughout the book. Both Eleanor and Park seem to be trying to find themselves in a world that is a little too enthusiastic to fit them in a pre-existing framework. This leads to a sense of isolation for both the protagonists over the course of the story.
Family life and home are major themes in the book. The author paints a vivid picture of how jarring the difference between two households from the same neighborhood can be. What defines comfort and security for some can be replete with volatile violence for others.
One thing I really appreciate about Rainbow Rowell’s writing style is that the story is not limited to any one character. While the point of view switches between Eleanor and Park, all the characters in the book are extensively shelled out. Along with the protagonists, the readers get a chance to delve into the subplots that are seamlessly woven into the story. These help the readers to get to know all the characters beyond a cursory glance.
Eleanor and Park is the kind of book that leaves an imprint in the reader’s mind with its unrelenting honesty and raw emotions. It is a must-read for those of us looking for a little bit of courage at the moment.
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