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review 2018-11-12 15:17
5/5: Eleanor and Park, Rainbow Rowell
Eleanor & Park - Rainbow Rowell

Park doesn’t think much of Eleanor when he first sees her on the school bus. And Eleanor doesn’t think much of Park when she’s forced to sit next to him either…

Wow. That was something else.

Where to start with E&P? I’d start with the ending, but to do so would feel like a major spoiler, and it’s not something I want to spoil for anyone, even by dropping it under the safety of hidden text. Just read the book for yourself, then we’ll talk about the ending.

I wanted to talk about the ending so much when I finished it, I wanted to bother my book-buddy friend on a Sunday night when she probably had better things to do. I would have asked my wife about it, but she’d have to read it first, and I didn’t want to wait that long.

But enough ending-related vagueness. What can I tell you about this book?

The simplicity of the writing pulls you in and along for the ride. The sentence structure is simple, almost an elementary level. But those simple sentences have complex themes poured into them. It’s like minimalism for writing; all the power is underneath the words. It drags you down the page and pulls you through the book.

There are no easy answers to the questions asked around the edges of this story. Eleanor is pushed into hard and uncomfortable shapes by the world she lives in. She cares deeply for her brothers and sisters, but finds she can’t drown with them and she can only save herself when the waters close over her head. Park, by comparison, seems to have life easy, but there are undercurrents to his life that make his footing less secure than it seems.

I liked the additional complexity of having it set in 1986 as well. Eleanor can’t simply reach into a back pocket and call 911, any more than she can call Park. He’s only a few blocks away, but it might as well be miles.

And how lost Park is without Eleanor, the music gone from his life both metaphorically and literally. The songs he’s never going to be able to listen to again. Ah, man.

I loved the way this book made me remember how it all felt. It mirrors our “first times” so perfectly and makes us ache for everything to be new again, for the first touch of a hand in ours.

(Falling asleep listening to your love on the phone, the conversations about nothing that mean everything. The first time you ever made someone a mix tape. Yeah, I’m that old I can remember doing those: The careful selection and editing, the struggle to get everything to fit onto a 90 minute space. Trying to squeeze your personality down to thirty songs. Even though I didn’t get there until I met my wife - my own Eleanor in style and bearing if not by name - until ten years later than Park, I still went through it all.)

I was almost blubbering and had to stop sometimes when I was reading this, because it’s so fragile, what Eleanor and Park have.

I felt like I would break it by looking at it for too long, and that would make my heart ache for its lost beauty.

It's wonderful to watch these two fall for the first time, as we have all fallen. And in watching, we remember when they were us.

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review 2018-06-29 16:54
Eleanor & Park - Rainbow Rowell

For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

I hated this book. I usually really enjoy YA books. I'm not a huge fan of romance stuff, but I enjoyed The Fault in Our Stars and Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda so it's not like I'm completely heartless.

I'm not entirely sure what it was exactly that made me hate this book so much. Part of it is probably that growing up, I was the Eleanor who latched onto the first guy who was nice to her to escape my home life and called it love. I was the Eleanor who started insignificant fights with my boyfriend because I didn't really know what a healthy relationship looked like and was overly insecure, anxious, and jealous. It was all a coping mechanism. It wasn't healthy, it wasn't romantic, and it led to a series of unhealthy relationships. In the book, all of these unhealthy things add up to a deep romantic relationship between two children who don't know the first thing about being in an actual relationship. In real life, it adds up to pain, hurt, and a lot of unhealthy coping mechanisms you spend years unlearning. 

In this novel, Eleanor is looking for an escape. She finds it in Park. Park is looking for someone to rescue so he can feel important. He finds it in Eleanor. I hate that the novel presents these kids dealing with huge issues (bullying, abuse, poverty) and seems to think that they can just love each other and make everything better. That's not how real life works. 

As with many YA novels, rarely do the characters actually go to an adult about their problems. Eleanor can't even bring herself to ask an adult for a toothbrush. She just accepts it. I hate literature that presents this as normal or something kids should just deal with. They should go to adults with these issues. It puts way too much pressure on kids and teens to think that they have to deal with all of these problems alone. Go to an adult and seek help. No one should have to live that way. Looking back, I wish I had talked to an adult about my problems. And don't think some boy is going to save you. This is the same fairy tale BS we grew up on. Save yourself, don't wait around for some dumb prince.

The narration was okay, but I hated the characters. The only people I liked were side characters who hardly played any role in the actual story. Why couldn't she develop her friendship with DeNice and Beebi instead of putting all her BS onto Park? Don't just throw yourself in a relationship, girl, friendship is important too. This basically just teaches girls to put all of their energy into romantic relationships (growing up, that's what I did and it really hurt my female friendships, not a good idea). Having female friends to confide in is an important way to deal with stress. 

I get the historical context of the novel, but the unaddressed racism seemed irresponsible in the text. 

The whole book surrounds this ridiculous "romance" and there is nothing else. So if you don't like the "romance", you're going to be bored out of your mind.

I really did not enjoy this book. It put my in a horrible mood every time I listened to it. It's not even one of those books I'm glad I read to see what all the hype was about. It was something I just wanted to forget as soon as I was done reading it.

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review 2018-04-28 00:42
The Last Blog Post
Eleanor & Park - Rainbow Rowell

I have recently finished Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell.  Unfortunately, I did not enjoy the book as much as I would have hoped.  Contrary to this statement, a few passages did stand out to me.  One of such passages is a line on page 299 depicting Park's emotional state: "Park stayed awake for another hour or so, fueled by Coke and hurt feelings."  This sentence really helped me picture the loss Park was experiencing.  Without giving away too many details, I will say that many of my predictions were correct for this book, and that the quote is from a part of the novel where my predictions were proven correct.  

 

An interesting situation I have found myself in is that while blogging on this site, I have been able to find many books that I would love to read.  While scrolling through my dashboard, I have come across multiple book reviews for interesting books.  Although I did not expect to find many books on this site, I accept the experience wholeheartedly, and recommend it to anyone in search of a good book.

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text 2018-04-20 20:29
Connections between the author and her work
Eleanor & Park - Rainbow Rowell

Throughout my research of Rainbow Rowell and reading of Eleanor and Park I have found some similarities between the author and her characters.  Most of the similarities I found are small pieces of each person's character or a common interest.  An example of the former is that both Rainbow and Eleanor have powerful emotions that are almost uncontrollable.  Another similarity between Eleanor and Rainbow is their minor obsession of the Beatles.  Although primarily alike to Eleanor, Rainbow Rowell shares a love of Star Wars with Park.  Small parallels between Rainbow Rowell and her characters help connect the plot to reality.

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quote 2018-04-13 13:15
"She got on like she was lost and ended up there" (Rowell 51).
Eleanor & Park - Rainbow Rowell

The description of Eleanor in this quote is very powerful. In the book, Eleanor's home life is pretty awful, and she is forced to face each day with little energy.  In this scene in the book, the true pain Eleanor is feeling is showing clearly through her facial expressions and body language.  

 

Rainbow Rowell's unique style is also portrayed in this quote.  Rowell often writes with subtle imagery, where the reader can easily picture the situation without the use of flowery language.  It amazes me how easily Rowell can show the bleak tone through a single line.

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