Friday, May 2, 2014

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

First, Rainbow is an awesome name!

Eleanor & Park is a good novel. I almost gave up on it in the beginning because it was a tad slow getting to the goods. Eleanor is a red headed 16 year old who wears men clothes and lives with her Mom, brothers and sisters, and her step-dad. Park is a 16 year old boy who reads comic books, likes rock music, and has had his seat on the bus to himself all year. Until Eleanor arrives. At first, you think it's a typical 'bully the new girl because she's overweight' type novel but then it gets good instead of awkward or boring. Eleanor is a sarcastic, mean teen who is smart and brave and has more confidence than she realizes. Park is a semi-popular kid who doesn't know what he wants until he meets Eleanor.
Their romance is like a Romeo and Juliet tale. Which isn't all that a stretch since Rowell mentions this story a few times in the book. You get it. They are definitely star-crossed lovers. Eleanor's family is...different. Her step-dad is an ass, alcoholic and abusive to her mom. Her siblings are too young to understand. Her Dad is a moron and blind. The only good people in her life are Park and his parents. They care. They see her. They accept her, eventually.
Basically, Eleanor arrives on the school bus and has no choice but to sit with Park on the bus. He's resentful and ignores her. Until he realizes that she's reading his comic books over his shoulder. Then he starts to let her read with him on the bus and then he lets her borrow them and his walkman. It's really quite sweet. The school bus romance is crazy and funny but sweet. Park falls in love instantly and you get the sense that Eleanor is but she can't 'risk' it. She's afraid of her step dad and has no one to talk to. Her step dad is a piece of work. In the end you find out that he's been watching her...yes, like that. She ends up in a good place, with her Aunt and Uncle who save her and her family. But she doesn't end up with Park. She doesn't go back for him and he doesn't visit her. It's until a year later, after all the drama of getting her out of the state, that she finally FINALLY says those three little words.

It's a good book. It's definitely a teen book but young adults may like it as well.

3.5 out of 5 stars. Slow going, typical