I finally read this book! I mean, I know I read and reviewed "Fangirl" already (and while these reviews are all behind, I read that book a few months before I did "Eleanor & Park) but this book is what first had me intrigued by Rainbow Rowell's writing. A novel that is recommend by John Green and Stephanie Perkins? How could I not want to read it?
It took me a while to actually order and get into the book, though because I knew vaguely how the story went and I know some people had some emotional moments towards the end that I wasn't sure I wanted to read about at the time, but I finally did it! I finished the book in under two days and couldn't put the book down, but before I get into the few little things I noticed about the book, here is it's Goodreads description:
One extraordinary love.
Eleanor... 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, like I said, I put off reading this book for a while because I wasn't sure if I was ready to read a book that that might make me tear up and have me falling in love with and rooting for such misfit characters, but I did, and I adored it. I still enjoyed "Fangirl" more, that was more relatable after all, but this book was so beautiful and heart-wrenching and I loved every page of it. My only real problems are that the characters have a co-dependency that, as we know, is unhealthy. That's not something that could be changed though. The characters are outsiders, they're damaged in their own ways, of course they cling to each other the way they do. There were also parts that were so uncomfortable to read, especially when they come after scenes that are light and cute and everything a contemporary YA book usually is. The balance was done well, but the disparity between the two sides of the story would make me feel the tension and squirm in my seat to have to read it.
I think this is a great book. All teenagers should read it because it handles all the various topics involved from love to damaged households in an elegant and realistic sort of way that doesn't belittle the problems or romanticize them. The perspectives change often and the chapters are short so the plot moves along quickly. Before you know it you're finished with the story and drying your eyes because while things may not always be written the way you'd want them to, they fit the story and you can't help but accept and appreciate it.