Monday, November 24, 2014

Book Review: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Standalone novel
Publisher: St Martin's Press
Published date: 26 February 2013
Read date: 21 November 2014
Tagged under: 2014 read, contemporary, new adult, romance, book review, 4

Two misfits... One extraordinary love.

Eleanor... Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough... Eleanor. 
Park... He knows she'll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises... Park. 
Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds - smart enough to know that first love almost ever lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

Book Review [Spoiler Free]

As the end of the year looms ever closer, I have recently fallen into a reading slump. I had a lot of great books on my TBR list but I just wasn't in the mood to read any of them. I picked up, started and then put back down several books before deciding to start Eleanor and Park.

In short, it was fantastic.

I'm not sure if my lack of enthusiasm for reading that any effect on my perceptions of this book but the beginning felt to me very slow and gentle, easing the readers into the story. The titular characters meet in the beginning chapters but it takes awhile for them to gravitate towards one another and begin interacting. Slowly, little snippets of their lives are revealed to you. 

This book is a fantastic display of show not tell. Chapter by chapter, Rainbow Rowell peels away the layers of their lives and show them to the reader, revealing telling signs without having to spell out the situation. Rowell's style of writing gives the novel a nostalgic air, making a seemingly simple plot into something memorable.

And the characters. Eleanor and Park. What can I say? They are so relatable. So well-crafted and realistic. And so reminiscent of my childhood/teenage years that I can't help but feel immersed in their lives. And in a world of smartphones and tablets, the mention of cassette tapes and double-A batteries really takes me back to my childhood (even though I wasn't even alive in 80s but meh).

While in some novels, I dislike the alternating of POVs between the main characters, this technique works really well in this novel. Through both Eleanor and Park's eyes, you see how their upbringing and circumstances shaped who they are. And at the same time, you see how they perceive each other. Never in this book did I confuse myself about which character's POV I am reading, something that often happens in some other books that contained alternating POVs. 

Overall: 4/5

This book just gives so much feels and emotions. I highly recommend this one to anyone who wants a nostalgic trip to their childhood/teenage years. 

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