Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Eleanor and Park


Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
5/5 stars
St. Martin's Griffin, 2013
325 pages
YA Historical Realistic

Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

It is still blowing my mind that this is technically a historical fiction novel since it is set in 1986 (I wasn't even alive then!) But that is mostly because I am struggling to put down in words just how much I loved this book.

On the surface, not much happens. Eleanor meets Park under less than auspicious circumstances: she's a new student on the bus and doesn't have a seat. He begrudgingly moves over. Soon they're bonding over comics and music and falling in love. But Eleanor's home life is a mess and the course of true love never did run smooth.

Just as Eleanor and Park are not immediately friends, this book and I did not immediately click. I was just very skeptical despite having seen several glowing reviews. But both Park and I were soon won over by Eleanor-her frankness, her kindness, her commitment to being herself. Soon we the reader get more insight into Eleanor's crappy home (her divorced mother married an abusive alcoholic man and Eleanor was estranged from them for a year after upsetting the husband; she also has four younger siblings making for a chaotic house. Meanwhile her father is incredibly selfish and thoughtless.) Park seems to have the perfect life with two parents who are still madly in love and a younger brother but deals with his own burdens: a father who doesn't think he's masculine enough and racism as he is half-Korean and looks it.

There's a lot of ground to cover and I thought Rowell handled the pacing well. The narration alternates between Park and Eleanor, which allowed me to bond with each of them as I journeyed through their story.  I was particularly interested in the music described and I bet this book would be a kick for anyone who was a teenager then, bringing back some fond memories.

The parts that I thought were exceptionally well-done were the descriptions of the physical interactions between Eleanor and Park. I've read a good amount of romance and other adult books as well as pretty extensively in the YA category and no book in recent memory has done such a good job of evoking the feelings and sensations of first love/young love. Just holding hands sends the pair waxing rhapsodic and had me frantically flipping the pages for more.

I know I gave this book a perfect 5 and I stand by that rating but my one complaint would be that the ending is a bit ambiguous for my taste. I'm sure some readers really appreciated that since it is realistic and thus fitting for the genre but I like all the little pieces tied up in the bow and one important piece was not as resolved as I wanted although it is leaning in that direction.

As I wrote this, I ended up hugging my nook because it held the e-copy of this book. I can't wait to have an actual hard copy to hold. Highly recommended!

Other Opinions:
Beauty and the Bookshelf 
From the TBR Pile
Pure Imagination
Rather Be Reading
The Flyleaf Review

27 comments:

  1. All of the sudden lots of great reviews for this book. But I sort of hate ambiguous endings! Nevertheless, I know that books that make you want to hug them are usually worthwhile!

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    1. It's a fitting end-I just wanted something more definitive.

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  2. Historical fiction and it's set in 1986?! That makes me feel very old. *sobs* I absolutely adore the cover of this book, it's so simple and sweet and it makes me want to hug it even though I haven't read their story. I'm guessing from your review I'll want to hug it even more after I do. Love books that inspire hugging:):)

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    1. We love the cover too! (And also feel ancient, hahaha...) Well, it sounds like a good read!

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    2. It's crazy to be reading about cassette tapes and how no one has a cell phone or computer. This was such a great read-cannot recommend it enough!

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  3. Thanks for posting my review on here and commenting on it--I LOVE your comment.

    "I was skeptical after reading a couple of rave reviews-could it really be that good? Well, yes, yes it could and is."

    I love your review! I know what you mean about the ending--it worked, but I wanted more. I still want some answers. I hear there MIGHT be a sequel, with the two as adults. So stoked! This book was AMAZING!

    Thanks for sharing!

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    1. A sequel would be so cool-I'm not ready to say goodbye to Eleanor and Park!

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  4. Fabulous review. I have been hearing such fabulous things about this one that I'm going to have to check it out very soon. And like you, it blows my mind that this is historical fiction!

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    1. I hope you love it-definitely the best book I've read in a while!

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  5. Yikes 1986 as historical fiction. Now I feel old. I'm excited to read about the love between Eleanor and Park; it sounds very cute and realistic. I'll have to check out the book!

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    1. I know-it's only a quarter of a century but already so much has changed. I especially noticed the lack of cell phones and computers.

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  6. I'm reviewing this Thursday. LOVED it too. You weren't even alive then??? Wow. I feel ancient now.
    I do remember the 80s and while my musical taste was more mainstream that Park's, I did listen to the Smiths and Joy Division.

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    1. I've never even heard of Joy Division but I do know the Smiths. I was born December 1989 so this was brand new territory for me.

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  7. Glad that Eleanor won you over. With her dedication to being true to herself, she prob would win me too.
    Brandi @ Blkosiner’s Book Blog

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    1. She is such a great complicated character-I loved peeling back the layers on her personality.

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  8. Love the Nook hugging! Oh my gosh, I'm so happy you adored this book too! It also boggles my mind that this is historical fiction. I respected the ending because it is so realistic, but I"m with you, I wanted so much more! Beautiful review, you've expressed my love for this book perfectly! :-)

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    1. Thank you for the compliment-blushes :) I accept the end as being fitting but oh it's not how my fan-fiction rewriting of this story would end, let's just say.

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  9. I love when you think a book can't possibly be as good as everyone is saying it is and then it is. I really want to read this one.

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    1. So much better than reading a book and thinking: "this got the blogosphere in a tizzy?" (which has definitely happened to me more than a few times!) This book hit me right in the gut with all the amazing emotions.

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  10. I do like my endings nicely wrapped up as well, so that bit I'm prepared to not love. But everything else- totally excited to read about! I have heard only amazing things and I loved Attachments by her as well. And I was only 6 in 1986 but I think I'll still connect since I was a teen in the 90's and it's close enough. I preordered and can't wait until it arrives!

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    1. I hope you enjoy-I'll be on the lookout for your review!

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  11. Love it when a story makes you want to hug the book close, even if it's on your nook lol. I finished high school in 1985 so I must be an antique haha. Thanks for a great review and bringing it to my attention ... hadn't heard of it but I'll keep an eye out now :)

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    1. Not an antique at all-vintage which is ever so in style nowadays :) I hope you like it if you have a chance to pick it up!

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  12. Wow! I am adding this to my TBR list and making sure I order a copy for my library. This sounds fantastic though honestly it kind of was under the radar for me. Thanks for your review and making me aware of this book!

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    1. Yes, buy, encourage your patrons to check it out, review on your blog: anything to share about this wonderful book!

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