Friday, October 18, 2013

Eleanor & Park Review

Eleanor & Park

Book talk:  Have you ever heard a song that changed your life?  Did you ever listen to something on repeat until the batteries gave out?  There's a world of music Eleanor always wanted to listen to.  She'd write down the lyrics on her notebook and dream of owning her own music player.  But she never heard them, until she met Park.  Now she can't get enough of him or his music.  But Park looks like a protagonist from a story; everything seems to go right for him.   While Eleanor looks like she'll never fit in and knows just how hard life can be.  She knows it would never work out between them.  But she might just be crazy enough to try.

Rocks my socks:  I absolutely adored this novel and stayed up until the wee hours of the morning finishing it (despite the fact that I had to wake up early for a road trip.)  Eleanor and Park are both such endearing characters.  I couldn't ask for more delightfully quirky protagonists.  The author had a unique style as well and instead of the usual endless and cliche comparisons of eyes to oceans or galaxies she chose to describe Park's eyes as "so green they could turn carbon dioxide into oxygen."  I love it!  Instead of the same, worn-out references to Han and Leia she lets Eleanor boldly claim that she's Han Solo and Park decides "I'll be Boba Fett. I'll cross the sky for you."  *Swoon!*  On top of all that, Eleanor is not classically beautiful and does not have to undergo a make-over to become so before she can win Park.  He appreciates her for the unique person she is thinking "She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn't supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something."  Then there's all the wonderful references to music and mix tapes.  Tapes were a bit before my time, but I clearly remember the thrill of getting a mixed CD from a boy and playing it on repeat.  Rowell captures this perfectly.  The whole novel captures the feelings of a passionate first love and bottles them up so that those who are too young to have experienced it can, and those for whom it is a distant memory can re-live the experience.  On top of all of that there is a lot of substance to the story ranging from themes of prejudice to abusive families.  Rowell deals with these topics deftly and provides the reader with hope without resorting to unrealistic miracles.

Rocks in my socks:  I wish Rowell had ended the story at the end of the school year.  Instead the last few chapters are a kind of epilogue that give a brief sketch of the following year.  These detracted from the story and I would have much preferred it if I had been left alone to decide what happens to Eleanor and Park for myself and debate it with other readers.

Every book its reader:  I'd give this to anyone looking for a good misfit story or an atypical romance set in a high school.  Audiophiles, particularly those who enjoy 80's punk will enjoy the music references throughout.  The novel deals with some dark issues around Eleanor's family, so I'd save it for at least 7th grade and up.


Rainbow Rowell has a great site with a blog, information about her and her books, and upcoming events.  Don't miss out the post with her playlists for Eleanor and Park.  It includes embedded videos with the songs and Rowell's commentary on why each song is there.

Macmillan has a page for the book complete with a discussion guide.

The book has not one, but three official trailers!  They're all short so you can easily watch them all:

Source: school library

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell: buy it or check it out today!

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