24 January 2014

Book Talk

Eleanor & Park - Rainbow Rowell

Published: April 12, 2012

Kindle Edition
329 pages
Stand Alone
Contemporary YA

This book literally broke me.
Rowell captures the essence of what it is like to fall in love for the first time and delivers it in such a perfect package.

Although the novel deals with neglect and child abuse, I think the main themes are self discovery, kindness and tolerance. 
Both Eleanor and Park really come into their own through each other.

One of my favourite chapters (src)
I loved that Park's parents were a mirror to them, maybe what they could have been if the story had ended differently. They were so madly in love, and you could tell that Park wouldn't settle for anything less than his parent's example. The flipside of this is, Eleanor's example of relationships. Her mother is stuck in an abusive relationship, previously having been in a neglectful relationship (we can assume) with her first husband. Eleanor strives for something better, though at first doesn't believe she is worthy of Park's love.

  • Can you imagine if Eleanor didn't fall in love with Park? She would probably be in a relationship with someone who treated her as badly as Richie treats her mother.
I don't usually read contemporary YA, because it's not something I've found interesting in the past. I guess it's 2014 now, so maybe I should be reading a bit more. Especially after reading Eleanor and Park. I'm so excited to read some stuff by John Green next. I love that this subgenre is filled with stand-alones. I really loved Sarra Manning a couple of years ago (great British author, writes stand alone contemporary fiction) but haven't read anything since she started the Fashionistas series. She is amazing though, check her out if you can. I practically forced Pretty Things down everyone's throat at school, and I adored Let's Get Lost.

Back to Eleanor and Park.

I loved the ending. (I kept trying to explain this to my boyfriend, but he couldn't understand me though sobs, so I gave up.) I loved the ending.
It was perfect. By which I mean, I haven't felt satisfied with the ending to a book in the way that I did with this one.
I know that a lot of people were hoping for a happy ending, but this.. I have no words. I didn't want the happy ending, because I knew that wasn't what the story was about. It's about love, yes, but courage and independence and support and making a better life. Which Park helped Eleanor do by getting her out of there. And the post card. Genius.

For a long time, I thought that Eleanor was writing the slurs on her books. Especially when Parks parents went into the bathroom and had an argument. I thought she'd written something horrible on the mirror. The same goes for her clothes in the toilet, I thought she was dissociating when she did it. It actually ruined a lot of the book for me, thinking that. I was so suspicious but I never ever thought it would be him. Even though it was really obvious looking back. I think Rowell could have developed it a bit more, maybe showing Eleanor noticing the way he looks at her. I suppose the bathroom door thing was the biggest hint in existence.
Park on Eleanor (src)
When Eleanor remembers Maisie sitting in his lap at the beginning I was nearly sick (figuratively). I'm so glad she got away, and I'm so glad that Park's mum started to realise her situation and help her the best that she could.
I read a Goodreads review that said they thought the characters were underdeveloped, which I disagree with. I think that Rainbow Rowell did a really good job with the character development. I haven't read a book that focuses more on character than plot since I stopped reading Sarra Manning's work. Usually, I feel like a book says "so and so did such and such" whereas here it's "Eleanor and Park did this and it made them feel X, Y and Z". That's the only way I can describe it.

[I wrote this part immediately after reading it, whilst in floods of tears, so excuse me]
I feel so lucky to have such a loving and caring family. I remember that feeling of irrational love so clearly, it never really goes away. I'm so lucky to have my Park with me right now (minus the eyeliner). He knows what I'm going to read, watch or listen to and love. He's introduced me to so many great things, like Watchmen and V for Vendetta. And on top of that, he's always got something interesting to say about things - a different viewpoint that I never considered. Plus he made me laugh loads while I was crying about this book, just so that I could write this down.

I really want to read the book again, but my heart couldn't take it.
It's been three days now and I'm still singing this song to my cat.
Gwyn seriously wants to know what love is.
I guess the last thing I want to say is that, Eleanor and Park made me feel the same way Miyazaki makes me feel when I watch a Studio Ghibli film for the first time. Like I'm learning something new about the human condition or falling in love for the first time all over again. Which is basically John Green's review of it, but I'm saying it too. 

If you haven't read this yet, I really urge you to as soon as possible.
If you have, tell me what you thought!

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