Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

"Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

... Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough...Eleanor.

Park... He knows she'll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises...Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try."

So here's one that I read on the plane and finished in the first couple days in Guatemala, and while I wasn't glued to it every free second, I really enjoyed reading it. It's a really interesting portrait of a relationship, and it's also pretty freaking powerful too--it handles some intense topics, both good and bad. It's mature at times, I guess slightly from the relationship but mostly with the depiction of certain unhealthy situations orbiting the characters. 
It was set in the 80s but the only marker of the time period was the use of cassettes--everything else could have been set in any time, which I kind of liked. (For some reason my enjoyment of books set in the past tends to be more iffy). But anyway, this one could just as easily have read like modern teens as anything else.
The story was a bit of a slow burn for me; I warmed up to the characters and the story as they warmed up to each other, which was a bit fitting. By the end I was completely into it--the story got sweeter and more in-depth as their relationship progressed. It was unconventional but felt familiar somehow, which was really nice. The way the plot played out, and the ending (which was previewed in a prologue) was powerful, realistic, and devastating to read, coming not too long after I'd fallen completely in love with the characters. I think this is a book definitely worth reading: sweet, and different, with no bland romanticism or airbrushed plot. 4.5 stars. There's a copy at Kettleson and Mt. Edgecumbe.

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