Eleanor & Park
by Rainbow Rowell
Published: February 26, 2013
Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – 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.
Cool book. Cool characters. Cool story. Practically everything about it. That's, of course, including the author. I know, cause there are lots of cool references about cool books, movies, and music :).
I was just halfway through the book and I'm already thinking about sharing it to my friends, and I finished it in a day in my excitement to reveal every moment of Eleanor and Park (but not hastily, most of the parts I took time to reread because they're that good). It's completely relatable, and the story just gets to you. The settings and the plots are very simple and relatable, but mixed with a strong but not exaggerated story, establishing this connection between you and the book and the characters.
Another cool part about it is that Eleanor and Park take both perspectives and you can take a really good look into their world, how conflicts arise between them and at the same time how they get to know and like each other very much, so you can't judge their flaws and you really get to understand them.
I initially thought Eleanor's life story was too tragic and it reminds me a little of Koreanovelas we used to watch, but I also think it adds flavor to the story, and not just in a minor way. As you get deeper into the book you'll find it not as overstated and I think it also tries to reflect on the youth of today, the everyday struggles of an American girl, especially one with her status and all. I think it reveals her strength and also the whys of her insecurities -- but then she meets this cool and mysterious but evil Park, who actually turned out to be her supercool, supernice and equally weird bus seatmate, and whom she falls in love to later -- and how she transformed it through their love.
As to Park, he was the one who had everything in this story, but was another misfit, and then one day his life gets tangled up by this new miserable girl who had no seat on the bus on her first day of school. It grows more interesting because you can also see the characters grow as they rediscover themselves through each other's eyes and they also find trust in themselves, and I really think that's great a message to sew into a book. After much awkward but/and romantic encounters and conversations, they fall in love and their lives gets mixed up and now they're growing in their relationship and discover more of themselves, and just as the climax comes, bang, fate (or was that love?) plays with them until they're forced away from each other to suffer without the other.
I think the heart of this story is summarized in the part in their English class, when they were talking about the tragic love story of Romeo and Juliet, and Eleanor refuses to acknowledge the love that existed between them and insisted love played a fool with both of them (Romeo and Juliet, I mean). But, as with every great story, love conquered in the end and fate couldn't stop sheer will from breaking them apart, no matter how the situation seemed tragic and difficult.
I'm so sorry I couldn't put this review into much more beautiful words more fit to describe it, but that's about that. It was a love story I really enjoyed, where love wins but not in a lame way, like how I put it.
Anyways, my favorite part in this book was, as what our favorite part in love always is, is the falling. God, the awkward bus moments were so funny and practically makes you feel embarrassed yourself. The music exchanges, the comic sharing, the hand holding thing, they were just so sweet and romantic -- in a weird way. Ha. It was so contagious and affecting you actually have to pause for sometime in between pages to catch your breath. I loved every part of this book and I'm soooo into it. This was a really beautiful read and now I'm looking forward to reading other works of Rainbow Rowell. She's such a hero for writing this wonderful book I really enjoyed, and I pray for other smart and cool characters to journey with. Soon. (evil grin)