Saturday, 18 May 2013

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell: Book review

To drink with this:

Chocolate Bourbon milkshake

This is a book individual enough to deserve its own custom-made cocktail.
I’m thinking frothy creamy milkshake combined with malted chocolate and slightly salty bourbon. A moreish guilty pleasure which nevertheless you’ll relish every second of.

What’s what

I heart YA 4ever; but there are some books which just work better at certain points in your life. I wish Rowell’s Eleanor and Park had existed when I was sixteen. I was entranced by it now and would have inhaled it as a teenager. Quirky misfit girl with wild red curls meets cute with the only Asian boy in small US town, who has a rabid enthusiasm for 80s pop culture. This was my life at sixteen! In my head maybe but still.

She couldn’t repay him. She couldn’t even appropriately thank him. How can you thank someone for The Cure? Or the X-Men? Sometimes it felt like she’d always be in his debt. And then she realized that Park didn’t know about the Beatles. Pg 101

Ok, this book isn’t going to change your life. But it will fill you with that inner glow you get only from a good story well told. And if there is one thing Rowell does well, it is bring the swoon! This is the most romantic book I’ve ever read, its steamy teenage glances surpassing Gone with Wind and The Time Traveler’s Wife. Do you like The Notebook? Ok, so if you think that piece of ridiculousness is romance you don’t even know what love is girl! Please give in and let this book teach you.

You saved my life, she tried to tell him. Not forever, not for good. Probably just temporarily. But you saved my life, and now I’m yours. The me that’s me right now is yours. Always. Pg 312

Told in alternating point of view chapters from the perspectives of Eleanor and Park in turn, this book takes them from hostile strangers to teenagers who are crazy about each other but subject to the pressures of the world around them. These are completely believable and adorable characters - their love story is set to comic books and the Smiths and it is just precious. All that and this book contains what most surely be the sexiest hand-holding scene in all of literature.

Park touched her hands like they were something rare and precious, like her fingers were intimately connected to the rest of her body. Which, of course, they were. It was hard to explain. He made her feel like more than the sum of her 76

There is a domestic violence angle to the book which I wasn’t as sold on; but what do I know? Maybe my own small-town teenage years were just ridiculously privileged by comparison. Either way, I finished this book and immediately wanted to start reading again. This has God-among-YA-readers John Green’s seal of approval, and it definitely has mine too.


Oh-so-lovable. I am glad this book exists in the world.

On the big screen

Wouldn’t work. Too many nuances and too much depending on internal narration.


This is romance for teens done right and so much better written than most of what’s out there.

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