I just finished reading Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, she of Fangirl fame (see my review of Fangirl here). Actually she wrote Eleanor & Park first so most people in the know probably know her for this book first and foremost and then consequently also Fangirl. Also I’ve spent way too much time thinking about how to begin this review.
A lot of people before me have emphatically praised this book. After reading Fangirl / basically devouring it whole, I was anxious to read this one, but also a little nervous that it somehow wouldn’t live up to the hype and wouldn’t be the same.
My conclusion after finishing it: It wasn’t the same but it definitely lives up to the hype. “Wasn’t the same” by the way, is a compliment. This book stands firmly on it’s own and doesn’t really beg to be compared to her other books. It’s just as well written with another cast of perfectly imperfect characters for you to root for relentlessly. But it doesn’t feel like a Rainbow Rowell formula where she inserts A + B, adds C and divides by X, you know?
Here’s a quick description of the book courtesy of goodreads.com:
“Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this 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. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love—and just how hard it pulled you under.”
Set in the 80’s and telling a story of two misfit teens who fall reluctantly in love – this book has the ability to make readers nostalgically remember being just like Eleanor or Park once. Unless you are a teenager right now while reading it and then you’ll just go “OMG, me, too Rainbow!” At least where their basic personalities and normal teenage lives are concerned.
Like Fangirl, this book is also more than just a cute little teen love story. These characters are dealing with some serious stuff, most of which I can’t really relate to but emphasized with deeply. Like sometimes when I was not reading because life, dinner, grocery shopping, small needy children, etc. I found myself almost worried about the book – like if I didn’t start reading again soon, lord only knows what might happen to Eleanor while I’m gone. I found myself quickly wrapped up in their story much the same way I was with Fangirl to the point of finally just giving into the urge to sit around reading all day until it was done.
Which means I’m now in bookish withdrawals so send cookies, a mix tape and a good book pronto, kay?