Book Review: Eleanor & Park

EleanorPark_cover2-300x450Eleanor & Park
Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Release Date: February 26, 2013 (USA Edition)
336 pages
Author’s website
Amazon & Barnes and Noble

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The author lives in, and sets her books in, Omaha (at least in all of her novels so far). I love reading about places I know and am familiar with – though little of that is present in this book. And having local book signings and releases isn’t half bad either! Both of my books by her are signed. As are all future ones. :)

I loved Rainbow Rowell’s first novel Attachments but never got around to writing a review here. Something about her writing just hooks you. Her sophomore novel is no different. I was grabbed right from the beginning. I certainly wasn’t the only one – I suggest you also read John Green’s review in the New York Times.

Omaha. 1986. Two high school sophomores. Falling in love for the first time.

Park has a Korean mother, and a good looking American solider father reminiscent of Tom Selleck. His parents are madly in love still and push him to be a decent person. And Eleanor reminds me a whole lot of Disney’s Merida – lots of curly, poofy red hair but with  thrift store clothing that is literally falling apart. In the book the description reads:

Eleanor looked like her mother through a fish tank. Rounder and softer. Slurred. Where her mother was statuesque, Eleanor was heavy. Where her mother was finally drawn, Eleanor was smudged. After five kids, her mother had breasts and hips like a woman in a cigarette ad. At 16, Eleanor was already built like she ran a medieval pub.

She also does her own, very quite, thing aware of the delicate balance that is her life. While Park has typical parental issues ever so vaguely similar to the Beaver’s, Eleanor has divorced parents and neither are decent. Her father has written off Eleanor and her siblings in favor of a fiancé while Eleanor’s mother has married a man who physically abuses his wife and emotionally abuses the lot including flat out leering at Eleanor. Every scene with him is so well crafted I feel like taking a shower after each one! At the start of the book she is returning to her stepfather’s home from a year of living with a neighbor after he had kicked her out. Yeah a real warm and fuzzy guy.

But more than that is the relationship between Park and Eleanor. By the time they actually hold hands you are reminded of every step of your first love. At least I was! Suddenly those high school feelings just came flooding back and I couldn’t put the book down. It was every minute that sweet romance I once craved in high school and felt warm and fuzzy reading about now.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Did I mention Rainbow herself is this huge geek? Yep. Even went to several cons researching her next novel (out this fall – Fangirl). Some lines remind me of my thinking in high school:

Apparently everything made her want to kiss him. Park could tell her that he had lice and leprosy and parasitic worms living in his mouth, and she would still put on fresh ChapStick. God. 

And some lines are just cliche and cheesy

“You know?” He repeated. She smiled, so he kissed her, “You’re not the Han Solo in this relationship, you know..”
“I’m totally the Han Solo,” she whispered. … “Well, I’m not the Princess Leia,” he said.
“Don’t get so hung up on gender roles,” Eleanor said. … “You can be Han Solo,” he said, kissing her throat. “And I’ll be Boba Fett. I’ll cross the sky for you.”

But over all I truly loved this book and it reminded me so very much of falling in love for the first time. She captures it perfectly.

It’s a super cute (yes, I know) book that really you must read! I strongly recommend it. I loved it so much I read it in a day. A day I worked a 12 hour shift no less. I did nothing else on my breaks, during lunch or after/before work. Totally worth it.