Eleanor & Park
April 12th 2012
"Bono met his wife in high school," Park says.
"So did Jerry Lee Lewis," Eleanor answers.
"I’m not kidding," he says.
"You should be," she says, "we’re sixteen."
"What about Romeo and Juliet?"
"Shallow, confused," then dead.
"I love you, Park says.
"Wherefore art thou," Eleanor answers.
"I’m not kidding," he says.
"You should be."
Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.
Eleanor & Park was a lovely, bittersweet book about first love and domestic abuse and high school and I really enjoyed it even though it was different from the book I thought it was going to be.
I actually really liked Eleanor. Well, I was expecting too, anyway, but I've seen some people who weren't too keen on her. She could be prickly and defensive at times, but she hasn't had the easiest life and she had a lot of stuff going on during the time frame of the book, so don't be too hard on her. Besides, as John Green once said (well, something along the lines of this, anyway) characters aren't always supposed to be liked. Like, liking a character isn't the most important part about a character. Am I making sense? Whatever, I think I kind of got my point across here. I liked that she was tough, but still vulnerable, and I thought that her relationship with her weight was really interesting to read about. This kind of sucks, but I've never read a book with a main character who's overweight apart from this one, I don't think, though I know that there are a few out there. What I especially liked about this, though, was that it was an issue, but that's not what the book was about. It just frustrates me when the only reason we get books about characters who do not fit to society's standards of beauty or who have a different sexuality is because of those things. Again, I don't think I'm making myself clear, but it's the fact that these things mostly occur in main characters in issues books, though that is starting to change.
Park was a great character, too, but I feel like this was more Eleanor's story, and as the book went on I found myself wanting more from Eleanor's side rather than from his. This is no detriment to him, because I think that they kind of balanced each other out in way, but Eleanor is just the bigger (no pun intended. Sorry, was that inappropriate?) character and I feel like Park gets caught up in her, as does the reader. But again, I suppose that that immersion is just, you know, young love. At times I did find their relationship a bit, well, annoying. But that's probably just me. I'm like an old person who always gets annoyed at these young lover types. Nevertheless, I was rooting for them as a couple even though I knew in my gut it was going to be a bittersweet ending.
When I first picked this up, I really wasn't expecting it to be the book that it was. From the blurb and the covers, I was expecting it to be some cute, nostalgic, Nick & Norah type book where most of the story was told through dialogue and music would be sort of the central column of their relationship, but it wasn't like that. Well, it was a bit. If I had been a teen in the 90's, I'm sure it would've been nostalgic and it was cute in places and there was a lot of music in there that was central to the story, but it's so much more than that. It was genuinely touching and sad in places, and I found myself being disgusted and surprised by a lot of the characters (namely Richie, Eleanor's stepfather, caused the former.) I think it was a really, I don't know? Interesting? Enlightening? Honest? portrayal of emotional abuse and physical abuse in the home. And I feel quite annoyed that the more serious aspects of this book aren't really touched on in the blurb, but whatever. It made me pick it up, so I can't really complain.
Eleanor & Park is a really lovely book that I highly recommend if you're into contemp (well, nearly contemp. If the 1980's count as 'contemporary') or are just looking for something cute with a bit of an edge to read.