Friday Book Club-eleanor and park by Rainbow Rowell

Hi Everyone!

Happy Friday! I am headed off to HAWAII tonight with my fabulous family, so there will be no blogging next week (I know! I know! I’m so sorry. I’ll never leave you again.) So, this post about the excellent eleanor and park will have to hold you over. Go out and obtain the book from your local library-it will entertain you for the week!  So, here’s the review, without further ado (if you find yourself puzzled by my categories, go back to last week’s book review [the Inaugural Edition] for descriptions. But y’all are smart cookies. You’ll figure it out.):

BOOK: eleanor and park, by Rainbow Rowell (how cool is her name? PS-her blog is MUCH cooler than mine. When Rejected finally gets published, I will get a cooler blog. Cross my heart.)

ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY: two kids meet on a school bus and fall in love.

IT’S BLANK MEETS BLANK:

Romeo and Juliet meets High Fidelity

SNOWFLAKE FACTOR:

the 80s-music, comics, walkmen that ran on batteries, not having cell phones…so many things I sort of remember. (Full disclosure: I was born in 1985. But! I did have a walkman, and my family didn’t have the internet until I was 16, nor did I have a cell phone until then. So I feel the pain of teenagers trying to establish a romance without being able to covertly text.)

SOUNDTRACK:

Oh man. Music plays a HUGE part in this book-especially the mixtape. I miss mixtapes SO MUCH. Playlists are not the same. Anyway, these crazy kids love the Smiths, the Cure, and U2, among other things. Eleanor loves the Beatles, for which she gets my undying affection. Rainbow Rowell made playlists for her blog (see, cooler than mine) which are here: http://rainbowrowell.com/blog/2013/03/eleanor-park-all-the-playlists-all-the-music/

MY HEART FEELS:

TEEN ANGST. Is there anything like it? So epic, so melodramatic, but so utterly, totally real.

GRADE: A

This book. Oh man, this book. It came so highly recommended to me that I was practically foaming at the mouth to get my hands on it. I mean, John Green, aka My YA Author Role Model and Hero, wrote the NY Times review. So this is a BFD, to quote my other role model, Vice President Joe Biden.

And then I read it. This is one of those books that keep you up at night because IF YOU DON’T FINISH IT BEFORE YOU SLEEP YOU WILL PROBABLY DIE OF ANXIETY. I have to say the thing this book made me feel most is nervous.  Being a teenager in love is gut-wrenching enough, but (this isn’t really a spoiler since it’s set out really early) Eleanor’s home life is a nightmare, and I was terrified of what was going to happen to her. At one point I wailed (literally wailed) to my husband “Whatever is going to happen to poor Eleanor?” Maybe I’m too close to it, having worked in child abuse and neglect before, I don’t know. But my fears for her safety overshadowed my enjoyment of the romance for most of the book.

I remember being a teenager in love (hey there, Brian. Thanks for taking me to Titanic and holding my hand for all three hours).  And a lot of it was devastating. But there were some happy moments. I recall vacillating wildly from joy to despair, and I feel like this book is heavy on the despair. If this book had a theme song, it would be “We Found Love (in a hopeless place)” By Rihanna. Maybe I just got lucky and had more joy than pain, but that part of it didn’t ring true for me. I could not identify with all the sad.

It’s still an amazing book. I want there to be a sequel so I can make sure these crazy kids are okay. I want to send them both on an all-expenses paid trip to Disneyworld. I really, really cared about the characters. Maybe too much. And that’s a the mark of a great book to me-I simultaneously want to tear through it to find out how it ends, but I also never want to finish it.

Park’s parents play a big role in the book, which gets huge bonus points  from me, because adults usually disappear in teen stories and that’s so unrealistic. When I was a teenager my entire life revolved around my parents. Were they proud of me? Would they let me stay out late on Friday? Would they drive me to the mall or give me my allowance early or tell me my skirt was too short for school? These autonomous teens (like Dash and Lily in the otherwise-excellent Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares) always seemed like cheating to me. This book, apart from one moment at the end, does not suffer from that.

The more I think about this book, the more I like it. When I finished it last week, I needed some distance from it. I was suffering PTSD from this book. But now, as I’m remembering it, I’m having serious flashbacks to my own teen years. This book really captures the agony and the ecstasy of first love. And it does end well, despite my nail-biting fear. So, go give it a read. You’ll be glad you did! (and let me know what you think when you do!)

That’s all for now, folks. Aloha and see you on the 20th for another post about writing (with some pics from Hawaii, if you’re good.)

 

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