December 5, 2012

Latest Read: Eleanor & Park

Here are the basics ...
Book: Eleanor & Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Site: http://rainbowrowell.com/blog/
Category: Young Adult - Contemporary

Summary: 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. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under. (Adapted goodreads.com


[Note: ARC c/o St. Martin's Press via NetGalley. Thank you! Officially release date: March 5, 2013.]

My thoughts…
The good: I have to admit, when I started Eleanor & Park I assumed it would be a light, happy read about first love, set in the 80s. It turned out to be so much more than that.  Eleanor is the new girl at school and immediately she becomes a target for ridicule.  She's overweight, has red, curly (and often messy) hair and her clothes are either hand-me-downs or from the Salvation army.  Park is a half-Asian kid who basically gets along with his classmates although he's not super popular.  When they get thrown together on the bus, forced to share a seat - it's disdain at first sight.  They try to ignore each other but eventually start to talk.  The beginning of their friendship was probably my favorite part.  They would have these discussions about the X-Men, Batman (Eleanor thinks he's boring, ha!), the Smiths. But as they get to know each other better, we see there's more to them than meets the eye.  She's dealing with a difficult home situation and he struggles with his identity.  They both have insecurities, both flawed. But in the midst of this chaos and their misfit statuses, they share this love which is both innocent and intense (like most first loves are). I loved their characters and how they each expressed their feelings in such different ways. But even though they were opposites, had people who didn't approve of their relationship and were obviously on the young side.. I just kept thinking, I want you two to be together forever! (Heh.) There was just something sweet about these two falling in love.

(Very minor) reservations:  For some reason, I thought they were 14 or 15 at first because they seemed so young. So I was a little startled when Park mentioned being 16. The other thing that I noticed was how Park's nationality was brought up all the time. I could understand Park thinking about it because he did feel like it set him apart.  But even Eleanor would refer to him as the "Asian kid" sometimes and I wasn't too crazy about that. Because with their relationship, I felt like the biggest takeaway was that they were just Eleanor & Park - those labels weren't supposed to matter.

Do I recommend?: I do.  It's for the fans of 80s pop culture and music but also for people who enjoy a good love story between two unlikely people.

Happy reading!

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