Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Book Rant: Eleanor & Park

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this 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. 

This book doesn't really need a review, as it's not new and many more credible people have done it before me.

"Eleanor & Park reminded me not just what it's like to be young and in love with a girl, but also what it's like to be young and in love with a book." --John Green

"This sexy, smart, tender romance thrums with punk rock and true love." --Gayle Forman

"A breathless, achingly good read about love and outsiders." --Stephanie Perkins.

The greats of YA Lit have spoken. But it being my first completed book of 2014, I had to comment.

The book is lovely, and for once, I actually do like the dual POV. Rainbow Rowell uses it to great effect. But all sorts of wonderful things have already been said about the book. I can only add that while I would recommend it, I would not rate it as highly as everyone else has. I think, honestly and this might be weird, but the romance is the biggest weakness of the book. It just came at me as too in-your-face and devastating. And probably that is what young love is like, but it kind of got weirdly Twilight-esque at times with Park and Eleanor's descriptions of each other.

The best part of the book for me was the characterizations of the two characters' families. The domestic violence in Eleanor's family seemed so real and heart wrenching. Incredibly well done. And Park's family was frankly, just one of my favorite things I've read. Much, much thanks to Rowell for depicting parents that are in love and mostly normal but with flaws and INTERRACIAL. Amazing. Read quite a few interracial pairings in books now, but as parents? Not very often. I was obsessed with Park's parents. Maybe this is a sign that I am getting real old, as one of my favorite parts of the Percy Jackson books is Percy's relationship with his mother Sally.

It's these things that kept me going through the pages of romance that just didn't quite ring true for me through most of the book; though, I won't deny Rowell's a great writer, and that's part of the reason I finished. And the ending was pretty goddamn perfect. All in all, really liked the book. A modern teenage romance that's solid and puts together two real characters and not skinny, pretty white people at all times.

I'm really into Rainbow Rowell, though, because she wrote Fangirl (which is on my to-read list; will probably check it out from the Cambridge Public Library when I go back to school but won't spend money on it), which means she is obviously Of Fandom -- awesome. Love authors who appreciate and embrace fan fiction, because it's a transformative thing for a lot of young writers and should be seen as such by the law and by published authors. Good for her!

Currently reading: Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen and The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien.

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