Friday, December 19, 2014

Eleanor & Park

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 1:00 PM

Age: Young Adult
Category: Historical; romance
Rating: 5 stars

Melissa Thinks: Our two titular characters are portrayed as two sixteen year olds struggling to fit in with high school life. There’s Eleanor, the quirky red head who has a problematic home life and a style that warrants the attention of bullies. And then there’s Park: the cute and nerdy half-Korean boy who has trouble relating to his more popular friends and classmates. Together, the two of them must overcome the obstacles that life throws at them. How far will they go to protect each other and their “adolescent” love?

This Printz award winning novel includes vital themes such as: bullying, racism, body-image, abuse, and neglect. At the same time, Rainbow Rowell still somehow manages to keep her readers laughing with quick wit and geeky references.

From the start, the author makes it very clear that this novel does not take place in present time. With the mention of tape players, vinyl records, vintage comics – we are almost instantly aware that we are reading a book that takes place in the 80’s: bad hair and punk rock included.

What I love about E&P is that it’s not simply a love story; it’s an accurate portrayal of life as a teenager and the struggles that teens face every day, though you may not even realize it at first glance. Eleanor’s family plays a huge role in this book. Through her experiences we learn what it’s like to live in an abusive household and how that can affect a person and the ones around them. Park’s family has their own troubles as well. His parents are realistically portrayed as an interracial couple. His father constantly berates him for being too “girly” and often insinuates that he’s gay. Park’s friends don’t seem to understand his relationship with Eleanor which creates some shame and paranoia for him in the beginning of the book.

Eleanor & Park is without a doubt the best book I’ve read this year. The alternating point of views gives a clear and almost poetic picture of Eleanor and Park’s relationship. There is no insta-love here – the relationship starts off slow and burns brighter as the story moves along. I was so emotionally invested in this book, to a point where I stayed up all night to finish it even though I had a class that morning.

With a movie deal on the way and a string of cities already banning it from public school English classes, this is not a book you want to wait around to read.


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