I recommend books to my friends and family all the time and this is definitely one I'd recommend. When they read the books that are painful to read I check their progress. I ask them what bit they're up to and what they think will happen. When they get to the parts that hurt and finally the end, I watch all of their emotions play out and smile like a lunatic that they're in pain. They feel what I feel now and we can both wallow in this horrible feeling together. This is how I feel Rainbow Rowell wrote the book. I can almost hear her cackling in my head at the thought of another person joining the fold, joining her in this whirlwind of emotion.
Eleanor & Park is set in the 1980's and is about Eleanor, a wild, redheaded, teenage girl stuck in a shitty situation and Park, a normal teenage guy who gets pulled into Eleanor's world. At first sight they both dislike each other immensely but, slowly, their defences wear down and they fall for each other. It's a story about hope and what it truly means to love another person, even if it means letting them go.
Yes, most definitely, but it's really good.There are so many things I liked about this book. I could rant about it for a while so I'll try to keep it short.
Firstly, Eleanor. She's...different. She dresses in "boys" clothes, she has wildly curly red hair and she chubby. Her story, though, isn't about her being chubby. I mean, of course she's self conscious about how she looks, everyone is, but Eleanor's story isn't the story of a chubby girl becoming shinny and confident. It's just about Eleanor and her struggles and that made me really happy. There are so many stories where the "fat" girl becomes confident in her own skin or where she becomes "healthy" and feels better about herself. We don't need another story like that, we need a story where a chubby girl is treated like an actual person who has problems outside of their weight and this is one of them.
Next is Park. Park is Korean. As soon as I read that, I mentally high fived Rainbow Rowell. Diversity is great and the way Park was portrayed was wonderful. Park is a whole person and being Korean, and what the really meant to him, was a part of that. I liked how Park didn't know much about his heritage because it just made sense to me that he wasn't told about that sort of stuff. Not everyone knows everything (or anything for that matter) about their heritage and I'm glad that question was left unanswered.
The mix tapes had to be one of my favourite things about this book (besides Eleanor, Park and the whole story). Music was such a big part of my teenage years, and my life now, that I really connected with that feeling of being lifted out of your bullshit by music.
So, my other favourite thing about this book was how they fell in love. It wasn't terribly fast, in fact, it was so slow that you can see it happening page by page. I understand that people fall in love fast, but I really enjoyed watching it slowly unfurl every chapter, and the layers peel away from Eleanor as it happened.
I've seen teachers describe the plot of a story like a hill climb. The start goes at the bottom of the hill and the end goes at the top with the whole story in an uphill climb to the end, before it falls away in the last few pages. I'd describe this book as a hill with points. A hill that goes up and down, a hill with sharp rocks and branches that hit
you in the face if you're not quick enough to dodge them. A hill with quiet, wonderful places bathed in golden light. The last part of this hill, the part that leads to the end, has a steep drop that you're not ready for, so you fall down it and it hurts but you can't stop because you're being propelled down that damn hill so fast that you literally can't stop.
What I'm trying to say is that this book is beautiful and painful , right to the very end. But, it's worth it. It cuts you and mends you at the same time. It's just a great book and if you haven't read it, buy it, borrow it, and pick a rainy weekend to read it, because you're not going to want to put it down and when you finally do, you'll need an excuse to stay curled up in a mass of blankets for a little while, but it will be worth it.
I hope you guys will pick up this book and Wildwood, which I reviewed on Monday.
I just thought I should let you know, if you haven't seen it already, that I put a short story up on Wattpad (which I do every month or do). Definitely check that out and let me know what you think.
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Anjulie Te Pohe
Founder of Koru Mag | Mookychick contributor | Avid reader and writer of YA | Takatapui (Maori & bi/queer) | She/Them | Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org