Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. Source: Library. Format: Hardcover, 325 pages, St. Martin’s Griffin, 2013.
I am usually very fussy when it comes to contemporary novels. They have to have the right combination of characters and plot for me to like them. There are many I have loved, and many I haven’t. I am pleased to announce that Eleanor and Park is one that I loved. I adored this book. I read almost all of it one sitting. Rainbow Rowell is an amazing storyteller. I really liked her Fangirl, but I think I may like Eleanor and Park more. Rainbow’s characters are so layered and unique, so likeable and relateable, and the relationships between the characters seems so real and organic.
I adored Park. He was so cute, so sweet, so thoughtful. He seemed like a guy worth knowing and I absolutely loved his beautician mother; she was hilarious. Eleanor was great, too, but she was a harder character to love because of all her inner turmoil and hurt. Her step-dad is a horrible, horrible person, someone violent and unpredictable. Eleanor lives in fear of him, resents her mother for staying with him, and hates her biological father because he abandoned them. Eleanor is bullied at school because of her being different. While Eleanor sounds like a typical YA teen protagonist going through personal traumas, she’s very unique and different. She’s a survivor and a believer. She’s smart and sassy but also miserable and reluctant. She’s a really great character, now that I’m thinking about it. But I still liked Park better. He was just so dang cute! Eleanor was so lucky to have him love her. They were perfect for each other and their relationship seemed so believable.
I could mush and gush about this book forever. It was a lovely break from all the darker fantasy novels I’ve been reading lately. While it’s not a lighthearted tale of teenage romance, it rolls at a nice pace and has so many moments that made me grin and squeal and sigh. I almost cried at the ending; I think my eyes got a bit moist around the edges.
I tip my hat to you, Rainbow Rowell. This book was everything. The feels. The wonderful writing. The amazing characters. All the music references. This book was perfect, or as close to perfect as a book can get.