Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Book Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Ebook. Book cover.

This review also appears on my Goodreads profile.

Rating: 4.3 stars!

An advance copy was provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

“Think you're escaping and run into yourself. Longest way round is the shortest way home.” -James Joyce

I don't know why, but as soon as I thought about this novel and everything that I experienced during the read for the purpose of writing this review, this quote kept zinging 'round and 'round in my mind, going wheeeee.. so I just had to mention it cause it also explains the feel of this book and it's theme and is not just something that kept blocking me from thinking anything else. Much.


This was a wonderful book and I had to take a few moments to myself, patting down emotions and gathering my wits, before I could calmly sit down and write this review. The story completely fell in with 1986 background and for most parts, I just thought that it was really, really cool.

The best part about this novel was that it(the book) was so comfortable and familiar reciting Eleanor and Park's story.. So completely settled in that soft, revealing place between reality and fantasy, that each new scene, every other dialogue that connected even slightly, felt as if it would reach out and lure you deeper into the couple's whispers and quiet sighs.

Another thing that I fancied was that their conversations felt true. They seemed to fit each other so well, their actions and thoughts so perfectly hesitant and bold all at the same time, it kind of seemed to leave a reminder of all the feelings and the memories that seemed old and intimate but in reality, when you blink your eyes and notice that it's morning already, you realize that it's just part of the story and nothing like you experienced first-hand. At least, it was like that, for me.

For most parts, I liked Park. Knowing that that's the understatement of a millennium, I'll continue by saying that though I loved him and thought him adorable and totes dreamy, I wasn't blind to his shortcomings. Like that instance when he admitted that he coveted being the first (first love/boyfriend) of the most popular girl in school just so he wasn't labelled a total nobody. But since we are talking about teenagers here and self-preservation is something we all hold on to, and also because I acknowledge the truth in the fact that it's very easy to judge others- almost natural actually- I'll let it pass because it's just one of a zillion facets of human nature.
I was already going "Aww.." and "Darn it, this guy is AMAZING," when (gasp) I found out that he was of half Irish and half Korean descent. 

Instant crazy fangirl moment. 

For those of you who don't know- which includes most of you, heh- I've been in love with the idea of Ireland(I say idea, because I've never actually been there) for as long as I remember and I totally got a thing for Koreans (the Korean thing started with this TV Show that I watched for a history assignment Dae Jang Geum- man, I've been a little weird like that ever since).
For a teenager with conflicting emotions and a hesitant want of acceptance, he was a person who was his own and who had a really kick-ass taste in music and comic books.  
As conclusion, I'll just say three words: I. Love. Him.


Now.. Eleanor.

Eleanor's was a character which we got to see from different angels and aspects- sometimes high, sometimes low, sometimes a little blurred and sometimes so vibrant that it almost felt real. I really really liked her. Having to live in a small house, with a disreputable and abusive step-father and a submissive, doormat mother, sharing a single room with all her siblings and no privacy to even think about, Eleanor had lots of struggles of her own- both, inside and outside of her high-school social circle. Big Red, some kids from school teased her and we were confronted with the reality of how alone a person might feel when faced with such bullies. Eleanor had an unwavering strength in her personality, that little quirk in her aura, that never backed down, and so I came to love her tenacity and backbone. As rough as life had weathered her to be, all the times she spent with Park, all the times that we got to read more about her, we learned that she was, in her own way, awesome. I adored her. 

This was a great story that started out amazingly and got even better as it progressed. The only thing that holds me back from giving it a 5-stars rating is that as it moved towards it's ending, the writing lost a little of it's charm, as if slowly running out of battery, the torch dimming steadily. I'm not saying that it got bad, no, never that. What I mean to say is that when some revelations we made, it could have been more dramatic, written with a little more flair so that we could utterly connect and feel that shock and anger on Eleanor's, and even Park's, behalf. What we did ended up feeling was a sympathetic understanding and a trifling acknowledgement indicated by the slight rise of eyebrows- a disappointment when you know that that "revelation" could've had that feel of devastation and despair worming in sneakily in the hearts of this novel's readers(making them love this even more)- the effect that it deserved to have caused- and inadvertently pushing the rating to a complete 5. 
I just felt that last shocking, sad part on Eleanor's support could've been more.. melancholy I guess.

Also, the ending felt just a teeny-tiny bit abrupt. Very teeny-tiny bit.

Except that, I LOVED this book, and I especially loved Park and Eleanor. Those two, they were adorable and totally awesome. 

I have to say that I am undoubtedly going to re-read this book. Soon. 

It just made me feel so good, you know? This novel definitely belongs in my favorites shelf.

As it so happens, I'll be looking forward to reading more by this author and I recommend this book to all YA realistic romance lovers, looking for a cute, really good read. 

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