Monday, March 28, 2016

Book Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

This is one of those books that just seeps into your subconscious from seeing it absolutely everywhere until one day you decide you want to read it too. I never knew the story - just that all my friends loved this book and how it's seen as slightly controversial. Even though I'm not generally a big YA fiction fan, I do like Rainbow Rowell, so I decided to get on the bandwagon and see what the fuss was about.

Eleanor & Park is a misfit love story to the max set in the mid 1980s. Park is a Korean American boy living in Nebraska, living his normal life of slipping just under the radar in high school, when Eleanor steps onto his school bus one day. Eleanor is a slightly heavier redheaded girl who seems odd at first glance. No one on the bus wants her to sit with them (oh, the drama of high school), so finally Park allows her to sit with him. At first they share no more than a seat, but as time goes on they develop a friendship that eventually becomes the most important of their lives. Eleanor comes from an abusive family situation and Park becomes her only escape. Park introduces her to comic books and new wave rock music, and the two are quickly inseparable. Just when things are going well for the young couple, Eleanor's situation at home becomes steadily worse and Park steps in to help her.

In spite of my general YA reservations, I really liked this book. I love things set in this time period due to the high nostalgia factor as a child of the era. I love the constant references to now antiquated technology that I remember using myself like walkmans and land line phones with no call waiting. I also really love Rowell's writing style and how she seems purposefully amping up this nostalgia in scenes like when the two want to talk on the phone for hours and worry that the other won't pick up or won't be alone and how intimate those conversations could be. Ah, youth, lol. The only thing that makes this YA is the fact that it's about teenagers, which I believe is why I enjoyed it so much. There is definitely some unfortunate subject matter and typical high school foul-mouth language, so if you are of delicate sensibilities I would warn you away. It's a great story though, and I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

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