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{January 15, 2014}   {Review} Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor and ParkFrom Goodreads: TWO MISFITS. ONE EXTRAORDINARY LOVE. 
It’s 1986 and two star-crossed teens are 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.

 A cross between the iconic ’80s movie Sixteen Candles and the classic coming-of-age novel Looking for Alaska, Eleanor & Park is a brilliantly written young adult novel.

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Set in the 1980s, this is a very cute throw-back story of first love.  Though I was just a little girl in the 80s, the references and details of the time period still hit home for me, and I loved this look back in time, especially as most YA books nowadays are set in either the present or future, therefore making Eleanor & Park a refreshing and unique read.

One aspect that I really enjoyed about this novel is that neither Eleanor or Park are particularly unique.  Instead, they are average, just like a majority of the world, and it was especially nice to read about a semi plump girl and a misfit boy because most books I pick up tend to have the ultra-perfect hero and heroine.  And while I enjoy those books, there really aren’t that many perfect people in the world, so I don’t always find myself connecting with those characters.  But with Eleanor and Park, I was able to connect.  I am that plump little girl who doesn’t necessarily fit in—and it doesn’t bother me.  Some of my best friends in high school were Asian, and I dated a few of them, though my school was an international boarding school in the 90s, so it’s a little different, but the idea is still the same.  It was great to just read about average high schoolers living a little less than average lives, and I really felt for the characters, especially Eleanor and her nightmare home situation.

Eleanor is a no nonsense young woman.  She pushed her way into Park’s heart, unintentionally, and though he tries to fight it and is less than accommodating at first, he eventually falls hard for her.  It’s a little different from Eleanor’s perspective.  She reciprocates, but non-verbally, and I really liked this slow paced “first-love” story.

The ending, however, is what really got me.  I, personally, didn’t see it as being real.  Suddenly their lives are thrown into chaos and everything is upset, which is understandable, but how Park’s parents dealt with it struck me as odd.  Now, remember, everyone experiences different things growing up, but my parents and my friends’ parents wouldn’t have reacted the way Park’s do, and so that’s why I see it as unbelievable on my end.  That’s not to say it couldn’t happen; I just haven’t experienced it so it sits a little heavy on my heart.  Likewise, the ending was left completely open to interpretation, and while I’m always telling my students to infer, to read between the lines and figure it out, I don’t want to do that with this ending.  It’s just… I need closure.  And while, yes, I can go back through and make an educated guess about what happens, it’s still my interpretation, and this is one of those books where I don’t want my interpretation; I want to know exactly what happens, exactly what the author was thinking.  Of course, I can’t have that, and I’ll accept it, but it did leave me hanging in the end, which left a twinge of bad taste in my mouth.  Overall, however, is was a cute little story that I enjoyed.  Three stars.

3 stars

I borrowed this book from the library.

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