Thursday 20 November 2014

ELEANOR & PARK by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor is the new girl in town, and she's never felt more alone. All mismatched clothes, mad red hair and chaotic home life, she couldn't stick out more if she tried. Then she takes the seat on the bus next to Park. Quiet, careful and - in Eleanor's eyes - impossibly cool, Park's worked out that flying under the radar is the best way to get by. Slowly, steadily, through late-night conversations and an ever-growing stack of mix tapes, Eleanor and Park fall in love. They fall in love the way you do the first time, when you're 16, and you have nothing and everything to lose. Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR & PARK is funny, sad, shocking and true - an exquisite nostalgia trip for anyone who has never forgotten their first love...

This is actually a book that my daughter read before me (she borrowed it from the library) and kept telling me I had to read because it was sooo good. Well, now that I have, I have to agree with her.
Eleanor is the new girl, and she stands out. She dresses differently, her hair is red and she's a little strange. So she instantly becomes a target for bullies. Park is quiet and likes to keep to himself because it's best not to attract too much attention. The day they meet on the bus because there's nowhere else for her to sit, both of their lives change forever.
What starts out as mutual dislike for each other, soon becomes an accidental connection. Which blends into a comfortable, low-key friendship. And soon becomes an out of control love story.
These two are kindred spirits and via comic books, mixed tapes and weirdness they get to know each other and start something that's impossibly cool, and dangerously amazing. Together, they change each other. Their separate worlds collide and the fallout is devastating.
OMG. This book is SO good. No, it's better than good. It's awesome! I loved every minute of it. This is a love story like none that I've read before, but experienced as a teenager while watching John Hughes movies. I'm a kid of the 80's, and this book captured that time perfectly! Sometimes it felt like I was there in my teens, reading this amazing book that I could totally relate to and just couldn't put down.
The story is told in the POV of both Eleanor and Park so we get to experience every shattering and wonderful action they each experience. Eleanor's home life is messed up because of her deadbeat stepfather. Her mother's caught in a really bad relationship and her five kids are the ones paying for it. Everything is out of control and so chaotic that all Eleanor wants to do is escape. Park's family is great because he has loving parents and a lovely place to come home to everyday, but it's not without it's problems.
Eleanor & Park is the quirky story of two teenagers who come together and fall in love for the first time. It made me laugh, get angry, frustrated, and even made me teary. It's a touching tale of first love in a time that I remember very clearly. And it totally broke my heart--sometimes in a good way, others in the worst way possible.
I might have been a little younger than Eleanor & Park in 1986, but the nostalgia was in every word and action.
Also, I have to mention that ending... so if you don't want any spoilers, stop reading now.
After reading the author's note at the end of the book about those three words, I have to admit that at first I thought they were 'I love you'. But after thinking it over, I'm pretty sure they were: 'Nothing ever ends'. Yep, right out of Watchmen. And because it totally fits. ;)

Loved this book. So much!
Eleanor & Park, April 2014, ISBN 9781409120544, Orion

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