Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I know this book is on everyone's radar right now. It seems everyone is reading it. Insane how popular it's gotten all of a sudden--like Hunger Games explosion style.
I thought I would like this book more, since it's contemporary ya. I'm a little disappointed that I didn't fall madly in love with it like everyone else. I'm due for one of those reading experiences, but this one wasn't quite there.
The plot was alright, if a little slow. It just didn't go as deep as I would have liked. Also, becuse of the cover and synopsis, I thought there would be more 80s music themes in it. The journey was slow, but it progressed quickly enough that I was never bored, just a bit antsy for things to pick up. I loved how the relationship progressed at such a slow, natural rate. It was a sweet romance, nothing shocking or disturbing (between the two title characters), no one emotionally scarring or controlling the other, although Eleanor was manipulative through her constant need for drama and to be consoled. More on that below. Overall, I liked the realistic, teenage progression of their relationship.
On to the characters, since that's what this novel is all about. Park--wow. I fell madly, completely in love with his character. More accurately, I remember falling madly in love with a real person who was EXACTLY like his character, right down to his collection of comics and The Smiths cassettes. Maybe that's why I liked this character so much--he was as real to me as a real person. He was so completely honest/confused/flawed/good intentioned. Eleanor--well. Here's where the problem came in for me. It wasn't that I hated her character. She was sympathetic, and I felt sorry for her as her home life was so awful. But she seemed a little lacking in depth somehow. She just never came alive for me the way Park did, so that next to him, she felt a bit flat. Also, she was a very obnoxious character to read about. Realistic, yes, we all know that girl who can't stop causing drama and intentionally misunderstanding every little nit-picky thing a guy says so she can pick a fight. But I hate those people in real life, and it was hard to LIKE her as opposed to just pitying her.
The ending--everyone has focused on that for some reason, but it didn't bother me. I thought it was very realistic, and that's what I was looking for. I didn't mind not knowing the three words, as I came up with several things they could say and was happy with that.
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