Five Reasons to Read It #4: ELEANOR & PARK

I highly recommend:

By Rainbow Rowell
St. Martin’s Griffin, 2013

With rave reviews like this one by John Green, I hardly need add my five cents.  But here they are.  Five reasons to read it:

1. Eleanor and Park are living creatures.  I breathed with them.  They’re real, the fact that they are ink and paper notwithstanding. 

2.  It’s a love story.  Not a teen romance.  A love story.  If you’ve fallen in love, if you’ve met a person who could rearrange your insides just by sitting next to you, then you’ll recognize that magic here.  This is technically a YA novel, and the characters are teenagers whose intimacy is (essentially) innocent, yet everything between them is melting-hot.  Desperately sensual.  Intimate.  Between the aliveness of these two characters and the effectiveness of the writing (both Rowell’s descriptive powers and her pacing are masterful), simple hand-holding explodes into full fireworks.

3.  It’s horribly suspenseful and upsetting, even while it’s gorgeous and mad.  Claustrophobic and liberating.  Sickening.  Exhilarating.  I was on the knife’s edge the whole time.  I wanted it to end.  I never wanted it to be over.  I kept telling myself to put it down, not to rush through it, but I couldn’t stop.  It had to happen.  I handed it straight to my husband the next morning, and he read it from end to end with the same speed.  Throughout the following day, several of our conversations began out of the blue like this: “Oh, you know what else I liked?” It’s that kind of book.

4.  It’s honest. In the privacy of her mind, Eleanor calls Park a “weird Asian kid.”  In the privacy of his mind, Park is embarrassed to bring this big, strange girl home to meet his parents.  Both of them are physically insecure.  Eleanor’s home environment is palpably oppressive.  Park’s parents, while far kinder and better people, still are imperfect in their judgment and prejudice.  

5. After Park’s mother sees Eleanor’s family in the grocery store – just – oh.  Both my husband and I had the same reaction.  We wept. 

Read it, read it.  


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