Title:Eleanor & Park
Published: February 26, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Goodreads Summary: “Bono met his wife in high school,” Park says.
“So did Jerry Lee Lewis,” Eleanor answers.
“I’m not kidding,” he says.
“You should be,” she says, “we’re sixteen.”
“What about Romeo and Juliet?”
“Shallow, confused, then dead.”
”I love you,” Park says.
“Wherefore art thou,” Eleanor answers.
“I’m not kidding,” he says.
“You should be.”
Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.
- With quirky, real-to-life characters and an adorably cute relationship, Christina was pleasantly surprised by this title. It goes on her top shelf.
**Note:** Christina received an e-ARC of this title from the publisher via Net Galley, but that did not influence her review in any way.
♥ACUTAL RATING OF 4.5 STARS!
Eleanor is new to town and her first day on the school bus proves to be a day that changes her life. Eleanor is a stand-out-in-a-crowd type of girl, and the immediate rejection she suffers by her peers sets her feet on unsteady ground. Eleanor knows she’s different, but she didn’t expect the direct name-calling to start so soon. It’s an Asian kid named Park that lends her a helping hand (sort of) by reluctantly allowing her to take the empty seat beside him. Though, it’s not exactly in the most polite of manners and goes a little something like, “‘Jesus-f*ck,” Park said softly, nodding to the space next to him, “just sit down.”‘
So this becomes Eleanor’s permanent seat. Over time and through a shared interest in Park’s comics and music, a friendship blossoms and turns in to more. However, both of their personal home lives and Eleanor’s torment at school proves to shake the foundation of their new relationship a few times and they have to learn to trust in each other to make it through to the other side.
My Thoughts: I loved both of the main characters. They aren’t your stereotypical, cookie-cutter heroine/hero with standard good looks and charm. Eleanor describes herself as fat (but through Park’s eyes, I actually think she’s just curvy, shapely… womanly) giant with blazing, wild red hair and a outlandish style in fashion. Park is half Korean in a town full of mostly Caucasians, lean, and of average height with a punk style and love of comics. These two are a couple of misfits that fit perfectly together. I swooned and flailed and smiled so damn hard throughout all of their interactions. Their relationship was the perfect levity to Eleanor’s broken home and school life and Park’s conflict with his dad. Simply put, they were adorable and I just wanted to live in their little bubble of awkward, yet cute first love.
“I love you,” he said.
She looked up at him, her eyes shiny and black, then looked away. “I know,” she said.
He pulled one of his arms out from under her and traced her outline against the couch. He could spend all day like this, running his hand down her ribs, into her waist, out to her hips and back again…. If he had all day, he would. If she weren’t made of so many other miracles.
“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. It was good to hear her. It was good to remember it was Eleanor under all this new flesh.
“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.”
I also loved the differences in their home life. In most contemporaries (or most of the ones I seem to read), both MC’s come from broken homes and provide an overwhelming amount of angst, but that isn’t the case with this novel. It was the perfect blend. Eleanor’s struggles weren’t over-dramatized, but it was there and real and horrible. Though Park has his issues with his father because he’s different and not the All-American boy his dad wants him to be, his home life is pretty amazing. His parents are madly in love and they both want what’s best for him in the end.
There were only a few things that kind of lowered my rating for this story. First, there wasn’t much of an arc in this novel. Through all the cuteness, I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop or the inevitable heartbreak to come, so much so, that even while I enjoyed their chemistry together immensely, I wasn’t able to fall heart first into their love. And believe me, I really wanted to fall. So, when I finally got settled into it because I was at the 75% mark and I felt like there was no way that something this close to the end would happen and that I was truly getting a story about first love and how it triumphs everything, Ms. Rowell yanked the rug right out from under me. And that kind of sucked big time.
So that leads me to my second point, the ending wasn’t what I wanted. I mean, I can settle for it and it wasn’t horrible (far from horrible, truly) and of course the author can’t write for everyone, but this is my review and I get to say what I want. I feel like if the climax of the story would have happened sooner or there would have been more story after it, Ms. Rowell would have had more time to deal with the ending, thus giving me more time with Eleanor & Park and inevitably, what I feel like would have been a more complete story. But as it stands, the ending just sort of… dropped off the side of a cliff for me. I’m not saying it has to be tied up all pretty with ribbons and rainbows, I just wanted a tiny bit more, a small epilogue perhaps.
*Edited on 02/23/2013* While speaking with Ms. Rowell via Twitter, Caren and I may have “requested” an epilogue of sorts. Her response was to say, and I quote, “ GIRL. I am working on IT. (Hope to write a sequel someday. E&P at 30.)” This resulted in an abundance of squees and dancing that I’m sure my entire neighborhood heard. Please, book deities, let this happen!
Verdict: Have you ever read a book and connected to it and the characters so much that you hugged it tightly to your chest? Or, in this case, it was my Kindle. Anyhoodles, I did, I hugged my kindle because this book was magic. Seriously, I never knew that a simple hand-hold could mean so much and make my heart take flight. Ms. Rowell wrote a book with authentic character voices and gave me ALL THE FEELS, which I honestly think every book should do. Whether this was a case of the perfect book at the perfect time, I’m not sure, but what I am certain of is that Ms. Rowell has gained another loyal fan in me.
When Eleanor and Park is published Tuesday, February 26th, you should definitely give it a go. There were times that I literally flailed or laughed out loud, and by the end of the book, my cheeks were burning because of how much and how long I held my smile. My love for Eleanor & Park, both separately and together, is huge. Honestly, if you do read this and don’t love them as much as I do, then please don’t tell me because I might actually cry. That’s how real my love for them is, it’s unwavering.
“I don’t like you,” he said. “I need you.”
♥ A very special thanks to St. Martin’s Press and Net Galley for allowing me to preview this title early.