Book Name: Eleanor & Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Genre: YA fiction
My Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Format: Paperback checked out from the local library
Goodreads’s words: Two misfits. One extraordinary love.
Eleanor… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough…Eleanor.
Park… He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises…Park.
Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.
My Words: The first two-thirds of Eleanor & Park had me absolutely smitten with the book. It was a joy to read even only one page of Eleanor & Park. The love story that Eleanor & Park contained was fantastic, if not perfect, for the first two-thirds of the novel, but the final chapters absolutely ruined it for me. You could say that I was just completely dazzled. But then I turned from being completely dazzled to being completely puzzled by the ending part of the book came.
Rowell wrote an amazing romance that started as a reluctant sitting arrangement, to quick exchanges every now and then, to becoming a couple. Every small interaction, every little word exchanged, every time they listened to music or read comics together, only made Eleanor & Park shine brighter. A relationship that is formed around stuff like reading comics together and exchanging mix tapes. And other totally cool nerd things like Star Wars and Shakespeare – which I could easily relate to. It was all very sweet and lovey-dovey, and I can’t resist anything very sweet and lovey-dovey. I won’t deny that this book has its flaws – plenty of them – but every once-in-awhile, I found myself forgetting about them and just enjoying this fairy-tale romance.
But there are quite a few things that didn’t settle with me. The problems between each character and their respective parents – Park with his Dad, Eleanor with her mom and her stepdad – really never feel fully realized or resolved by the end of the book. They add complications and complexity to the lives of the two teenagers, but are never really explored for a deeper impact. It’s all too neatly fixed or ignored by the end of the book, and I was disappointed with the quick fix.
There are many loose ends that were never tied up in the story. Like who actually is responsible for all those bad things that kept happening to Eleanor in school after gym. Why is Eleanor’s mom so helpless that she is ready to bear with all the harassment that comes from Richie. And what had really happened between Richie and Eleanor, why did he write all those things on her books. Of course I can see some vague lines that might interpret the truth behind all these things. But as a reader I don’t really want to guess the storyline, I want the author to do it for me. I was also disappointed by Eleanor’s character a lot. She came off as a little bit selfish when she did not care about her siblings when leaving home and when she treated Park the way she did towards the end. I did not understand why she did that. I must admit though, that the ending was one of my favorite parts. I liked the honesty, and difficulty of it. It was hopeful, but not in an artificially inflated way.
And it’s not that this is a badly written book, in fact, Rainbow Rowell can write! I just feel that there are parts from the book that should have been more developed. For me, this book, seemingly made for easy reading on a lazy day, is quiet, charming, if sometimes a bit too sweet, but still a novel that is worth reading. It’s a 2.5 out of 5 from me.