Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

So I read this book as part of a book club and I knew nothing going into it; I’ve never read a Rainbow Rowell book before and since so many people love her I thought I would just try. I was not forewarned that this book has some serious issues in it and I was not ready for it, this book was meant to be a love story and it became sad and upsetting and I felt so sorry for Eleanor throughout the book.

Characters

Eleanor – She has to deal with a lot in her life but I’m not quite sure of her. I don’t like the way she dresses and how’s she’s described but the author focuses so much on the way she looks and not a lot of it is positive. I get that every female protagonist has to be pretty or attractive to do well – I love Kelsea from The Queen of the Tearling and she’s very plain – but they need to have something to them to make me love them. She handles a tough situation and whether or not it’s the correct way I can’t say because it’s unfair to judge that type of situation when you’ve never been in it.

Park – I like Park because he’s a nice guy, there’s not too much else to it. I love comics and his music taste but I always feel sorry for him when he has to deal with Eleanor. His personality changes too often for me and just lacks consistency. I feel bad for him about his relationship with his Dad because I wish he had a better connection with him. The main problem I found with him and his family is that his parents tended to always be on opposite sides so he really only had a meaningful relationship with one of them at a time.

Richie (Eleanor’s Step Dad) – I hate him. He’s an awful person and you know it even though you don’t get much interaction with him.

Sabrina (Eleanor’s mum) – She is a weak women and I really don’t understand why she’s with Richie and I wish we understood that more because without that you really just can’t appreciate her as a mother.

Jamie (Park’s Dad) – He seems like a really solid foundation for the family but you can see the tension that’s still present even though it is a really caring and loving household.

Mindy (Park’s Mum) – I would have liked more from her and for her to be more of a mother figure to Eleanor but with them being so different it was kind of hard. I think Eleanor doesn’t try new things and with her calling make-up fake that really bugged me. I gave up make-up for 6 weeks and make-up can give you confidence and it’s nice to spend the time on yourself and look at yourself in a positive way. I think that Eleanor was really closed minded and didn’t treat Park’s mum in a friendly manner even though she was pleasant and respectful to her she never really made an effort and I think all Mindy wanted was a daughter.

Tina – She’s kind of a red herring, you want to hate her because Eleanor is so obsessed with hating her but I accept she’s unpleasant but I don’t think she has enough to hate her. I also think it’s Eleanor’s fault for not sticking up for herself and just letting her be walked all over. In life there are awful people and it’s not right but you shouldn’t be making it harder for yourself. If you want something you need to put the effort in to get it.

Steve – He was part of the storyline but there wasn’t much else to it. He was kind of just the big guy that grew up with Park but they weren’t friends and he was just sort of attached to Tina.

Romance

I think the word I’m looking for is awkward but it’s 16 year olds…. Of course it’s awkward. It feels like they’re just fumbling through which is part of the charm of the story I think. Neither of them really knows what they’re doing and this can create issues because I constantly just wanted to jump in and help them but it’s a book and I haven’t developed those powers yet.

I struggle to see why they like each other so much. I can understand that they have a connection and they like similar things and they can talk about it but there’s not much depth to their relationship. I met my boyfriend at 17 so I’m in a similar position to many young adult romances and I struggle to feel like they do it well. You can have completely different interests but as long as you agree on a functional and moral level then you can work. Their relationship can feel very flat at times and Eleanor really struggles and it’s uncomfortable to read.

The way their relationship forms is sort of strange as well, it just happens and then suddenly their together. You need to read it to understand it more.

Setting

I like the setting. It being set in the 80s really did add to it. It added to the relationship because of the struggle for them to spend time together. It wasn’t really the main focus of the story but it still added to the overall atmosphere.

Story

The story overall was not what I was expecting and it really took me my surprise and it touched on some pretty tough issues. I can’t talk too much about it because it will ruin it for anyone wanting to read it.

Writing

I was going into this with people saying that Rainbow Rowell has a very distinct style and I just didn’t feel that. I like how she jumps between perspectives and how it flows but I didn’t feel like it was all that special but that could be my fault for going in with a pre-determined opinion. I did, however, manage to read it quite quickly and I never grew bored with it or struggled to focus. I found myself wanting to continue reading on which I sometimes find really different

Ending

So I was unsure about the ending but Rainbow Rowell included a little explanation as to why she wrote it this way. I can’t go into detail as I don’t want to spoil but after reading this I felt content with the ending but I wish there was another story after this and I will miss not knowing. I can’t really write my own ending in my head like I can with other books.

So this was really long and I didn’t think I had that much to write about it but overall I think it’s worth reading but just to brace yourself for some of the situations in it and the language. It’s a young adult book but you are looking at 16 year olds as the demographic.

 

 

 

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