TO UNCOVER OR BE COVERED:
I know some people had a few problems with the cover of ELEANOR & PARK by Rainbow Rowell, at least before reading the book, but I don’t see how one could EVER have NOT liked this cover. Loved it, even. It’s simple, yes, but before I even opened the book I had a sweet intuitive idea as to what I was going to be getting myself into. The cover is somehow powerful in its simplicity, because nothing draws your attention away from the fact that this book is about those two people indicated on the cover. AND THE DRAWINGS. I love them too! Making their headsets into something that joins and creates the “&” is brilliant and says so much as well. Basically, I think the cover is effing beautiful. Even more so after finally reading this book.
SUMMARY: "Bono met his wife in high school," Park says.
"So did Jerry Lee Lewis," Eleanor answers.
"I’m not kidding," he says.
"You should be," she says, "we’re sixteen."
"What about Romeo and Juliet?"
"Shallow, confused, then dead."
''I love you," Park says.
"Wherefore art thou," Eleanor answers.
"I’m not kidding," he says.
"You should be."
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.
What can I say that hasn’t been said? Oh, yeah, I HATED THIS BOOK… for being so awesome. Not. While I can say that it may have started out with favorite vibes and finished leaving me uneasy and a little dissatisfied (not wholly, though, which is a plus!), this book, in so many of the parts that make up the sum, is absolutely as beautifully tender and romantic as everyone says it is.
WHAT HAD HAPPENED WAS:
So, Eleanor, right. She’s the new girl in school, and nobody but nobody is willing to roll out the welcome wagon or their extra seat on the bus, for this girl who’s big, frizzy-haired, and wears all the wrong things. Except for a reluctant Park, who can’t help but be embarrassed for her a tiny bit more than himself (because who wants to be seen sitting with the new Bozo?). Instantly, the two judge each other on sight, one declaring the other “that stupid Asian kid” and the other “a dumb redhead.” But something about Eleanor’s silence, the way she keeps to herself and never asks of anything from him (including a conversation), the way she reads Dickinson, the way she unintrusively follows along as he reads his comics, sparks a tiny bit of SOMETHING. Friends, more than, neither could be sure of what will unfold, but all Eleanor knows is that she’s found one person, even before the first word between them, she wishes she could sit with all day long.
WHERE WE GO:
Star-crossed lovers? Well, maybe a little. Because it seems no one approves of even a friendship between Eleanor and Park. Not the kids at school, not Park’s mom (after meeting her once), and God only KNOWS what Eleanor’s mom would’ve said. Because at first glance, it doesn’t seem that Eleanor and Park would have one thing in common, they’re so different. Not just in appearance, but in attitude. But, even with all the disapproval circulating, all the difficulty of developing any sort of connection, Eleanor and Park GET each other almost instantly. The story is about them understanding that, if they’re together, they’re not alone, two kids who dig the weird in the 80s.
There’s this mystery of Eleanor’s life from the past year and how it translates to an even worse time in her terrible home. Her stepfather is a drunken bastard, her mom is broken and too tolerant, and her little siblings don’t see her the way they used to. As for Park, who has a relatively normal household, acceptance is a shortage from Park’s dad, who, though in no way is a bad person, wants something from Park that doesn’t align with who Park really is. On the surface, Eleanor and Park should never have bothered with each other, but from the second they share a headset listening to Park’s Walkman, they realize they speak each other’s language, which they both realize takes precedence over what people think.
WHO WE ARE WITH:
From the minute Park gave up his prized solitude on the bus for Eleanor I knew I was going to enjoy the dust jacket off this book! And I knew I loved them both. That love grew from sympathy, understanding, and then awe at everything these two are and are together. Park is a closet weirdo, and asks questions about himself and what he wants that he’s too scared to the find answers to, but just by being in Eleanor’s presence, who’s brave enough to be seen as different or crazy-haired or whatever, he begins to learn a little something about courage. And as confident and cool as Eleanor must seem in the face of all the teasing and bullying coming from the bus demons and their lesser minions, she’s actually really insecure about her body and the way she looks. But she accepts it as it is what it is. She’s still brave—that girl has endured SO MUCH—but not quite enough to love her body. She’s a lonely, openly sarcastic, defiant soul and is more than a little surprised when Park seems to have some unexplained interest in her. But Park isn’t interested in dishonest kind people, but someone who isn’t scared to say what she thinks about anything. Someone he can debate the next issue of Watchmen with, someone he can turn on his Walkman for and swap thoughts on his music, someone who might be a little scared to hold his hand.
THE LITTLE THINGS:
- Every Moment of Bus Time
- That First Kiss
- Park Tells Eleanor She Doesn’t Need a Nickname
- That First Phone Conversation
- Park Holds Eleanor’s Hand on the Bus
- The "Sad Hobo Clown" Scene
- Park’s Parents And Their Story
- On. The. Couch.
Ultimately, ELEANOR & PARK by Rainbow Rowell is a special book, with dreamily perfect writing to suit a truly mag story. A sweet and scary and beautiful one all about firsts, and that person who's your first everything... and maybe only. There’s a reason why most people don’t have a bad word for this book, and neither do I.
Hardback / 325 pgs / Feb 26th 2013 / St. Martin's Griffin / Goodreads / $18.99
I received a copy from my library, which is ALWAYS on point.