Eleanor and Park By Rainbow Rowell. Firmly categorical as YA Romance, E&P is set in the 80’s over the course of one school year. Eleanor is the new girl – she sticks out like a sore thumb with her bright red hair, mismatched clothes and defensive attitude. Park just wants to fit it, but is painfully aware that he doesn’t. On Eleanor’s first day, she sits next to Park. They’re sixteen, and both struggling to find their place in the world – two misfits who love comics and music.
It’s a teenage romance that starts out with them ignoring each other every morning until Park realises that Eleanor is reading his comics when he brings them. Its all very tentative. Park makes Eleanor a mix tape. She steals his batteries because her home life is absolutely awful and batteries don’t exist in her house. And because its absolutely awful at home, Eleanor is terrified they will find out about Park and ruin the one good thing in her life.
The cool thing about this cover is not the front, but the first two pages as it features different twitter comments in little speech bubbles around the bus that starts it all and it’s quirky and different and I love quirky and different:
What was quite good about the romance was that it wasn’t love at first sight, Eleanor gets angry when Park tries to defend her from bullies, and they are both aware that teenage romance doesn’t always last, but if now is all they’ve got then they’ll give it a try.
The POV switches between Eleanor and Park, sometimes encompassing an entire evening spent at home, sometimes flicking between them while they are talking or just near each other. Sometimes it felt a bit like obsessive love, but then, teenage first love can be a bit all encompassing and obsessive (or so I’m told, I never really did the teenage thing). There are bullies, abusive parents, accepting yourself and trying to decide if love is worth it. It’s very teenage.
I have to admit, I spent the first half of the book unsure as to whether I was enjoying it, or if I was just reading it because its only 200 or so pages and I’ll be damned if I don’t finish a book that length, no matter how much I dislike it. I’m stubborn. Eleanor is stubborner. She is incredibly defensive, angry and doesn’t trust anyone as far as she can smell them. By halfway through, I was… I don’t think “enjoying” is the right word… curious about how the story would turn out, where all of this was leading to. And I have to admit the ending did take me by surprise! After all the drama, it just…ends… and I think for the first time ever I read the author’s note at the end wondering if I had missed something! It was a good ending, full of possibility.
I found E&P at a charity shop for 0.99p which was amazing because I just bought the next book in the A Darker Shade of Magic series and also the Six of Crows duology so any pennies I can save is a bonus. That being said, I am probably never going to read this again and may post it to my sister or take it to another charity shop.
Eleanor and Park had an excellent ending which made up for the hit and miss start. I can appreciate the style and voice and I can see why it has had such polar opposite views on Goodreads. It’s good, not great – which I’m starting to think I should save as a button I’ve used it so frequently over the last few reviews! It hasn’t put me off trying other things by Rainbow Rowell, so Fangirl and Carry On are still on my list, but I don’t expect I’ll re-read E&P.
(For those of you who regularly read my blog, you may remember my scathing review of Everything Everything, which I concluded by saying that my sister would love it. She did. She phoned me up to gush about how amazing and romantic it was. I should get her to do a contradictory review of it!)