Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell


I needed a lighter read last week, and Eleanor & Park has been taking the blogosphere by storm lately.  Set in the 80s, it's about teenager Eleanor, who has moved back in with her mother a year after being kicked out by her stepfather.  On her first day at school, Park offers her a seat next to him on the bus to save her from the ridicule of the other kids.  An unlikely friendship forms as the pair bond over mix tapes and comic books.  Their friendship soon grows into something more, and this becomes the one bright spot in Eleanor's life.

Mostly, I loved Eleanor & Park.  Mu husband and I got together as teenagers (I was 17, he was 18) and even though it's now almost ten years later, reading this book took me back to the early days, to what falling in love for the first time feels like.  How you can agonise for ages over whether to hold someone's hand, how swapping music recommendations and developing a shared taste can be really exciting.  Rowell perfectly captures the innocence and fear of first love.

I also loved how the characters felt very real and their relationship developed slowly over time.  It wasn't just   *bang* they meet and fall in love, there was a nice progression.  Adding in the unhappiness of Eleanor's home life could have turned her into a cliche, but thankfully she was too three dimensional for that.   Park was very real too, battling between his feelings for Eleanor and his desire to fit in with other kids.

The only issue I have with this book is that the second half of the book didn't live up to the first.  The experience of actually falling in love was written so well that what came after it was bound to be a bit of a let down by comparison, and it was.  But on the whole, Eleanor & Park was a lovely, easy to read book that perfectly captured first love.  It definitely lived up to the hype.

Source: Personal copy (kindle)
First Published: 2013
Score: 4 out of 5

22 comments:

  1. Aww, my husband and I were 20 when we met (so a little older than you and the characters) but I still remember that "will he take my hand, should I take his hand?" awkwardness. Love it!

    This is on my wish list because of everything I heard, so it's good to read another positive review!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The awkwardness was horrible at the time, but it's quite sweet to look back on!

      Delete
  2. Aw, I really liked the second half of the book! I feel like the kind of initial relationship stages were sort of stressful (in a good way! But still) but then once they got past that stuff could happen and that stuff was lovely and then scary and also other things.

    Yeah, I liked this book a lot! And I'm glad you did tooo :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did like the second half, just not as much as the first. I'm going to read Attachments soon I think.

      Delete
  3. Everyone is reading this book! Guess I'm going to have to put it on my TBR list. Sounds like it's a pretty quick read though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was a quick read, I read it over two evenings. Hope you enjoy it!

      Delete
  4. I'm pleased you liked it! I agree that the second half was not as good as the first, it sort of fizzles out a little. I'm still ruminating over this one. I don't think I liked it but I have yet to actually put those thoughts into words. Soon, maybe :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd love to see your thoughts on this one Ellie. I think my own reaction was very coloured by meeting my husband so young, so I'm not exactly an objective reviewer!

      Delete
  5. I need to get in on this one eventually, I know I'll love it. That cover is so much better than the other one I've seen - I adore the colors!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I actually like the US cover better, I love the drawings and the font on the title. We always want what we can't have!

      Delete
  6. I agree with you that I was happy the falling in love was a progression. Bam would've been bad.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Totally - insta-love is one of my pet peeves.

      Delete
  7. I read Attachments recently and absolutely loved it, but Eleanor and Park scares me. I don't know why, but in my head I've decided that it will make me sad and I'm not in a sad book mood right now!

    Probably just one of those make assumptions you make for no reason, but I really can't shake it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was more bitter sweet than sad and the ending was hopeful enough for me to leave the book happy. I'm going to read Attachments soon :)

      Delete
  8. I also enjoyed this book, but I liked Attachments better. I can't wait for Rainbow Rowell's next book.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If Attachments is better, I can't wait to read it :)

      Delete
  9. I didn't like Attachments much, because the premise was a bit creepy, but I'm excited to read this one. I don't think I realized -- or maybe I just forgot -- that it was set in the 80s. I love that everyone has talked about the progression of their falling in love. It sounds like a total dear of a book.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The 80s setting was one of the big attractions for me. I can see what you mean about the premise of Attachments being a bit creepy but I'm still excited to read it as I loved the writing in this one so much.

      Delete
  10. I think one of the reasons I adored this book was because of that awkwardness. It was written so realistically :) I'm looking forward to checking out Attachments one of these days.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I loved the awkwardness too, especially as I am a very awkward person myself :p

      Delete
  11. I have Rowell's Attachments on my shelf and now, after reading your review, I feel tempted to read that book, even though it's not exactly my fare. Nothing better than a easy light fiction for a lazy Friday.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ooh, did you pick it up in the end? Let me know what you thought of it if you did, as I'm hoping to read it soon.

      Delete