“Eleanor & Park reminded me not just what it’s like to be young and in love with a girl, but also what it’s like to be young and in love with a book.”
After reading such comments, I was resolute in getting my hands on a copy of the book despite knowing that it is a romance novel, a genre that rarely floats my boat. And as highly expected, it did turn out to be a very lovely read by author Rainbow Rowell, which I thought would be in time to recommend for this Valentine’s Day.
The protagonists of this novel are a pair of high school misfits Eleanor Douglas and Park Sheridan who fell in love while sitting beside each other on the school bus. Cliché as the set-up might sound, what makes this book truly enjoyable is how most of us could in some ways or another relate to the emotions and struggles that the characters experienced while growing up.
As teenagers, both characters grappled with their bodies, identities and self-confidence. Eleanor being the new girl at school was always conscious of her physical appearance, being slightly overweight with unruly big curly red hair and a boyish fashion sense that made her stand out from the crowd. Meanwhile, Park who is half-Korean, half-Irish American felt out of place with his Asian features and stature for he lived in a small town in Omaha
“Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.”
And when the two love birds fell head over heels with each other, various problems that came between them overwhelmed their pure unadulterated feelings of love and attraction. Personal family woes for instance became a constant point of contention, especially so for Eleanor who was a victim of family abuse. She was constantly cowering in fear and apprehension of her stepfather while being afraid that Park will realize and look down upon her pathetic state.
“Eleanor’s family had been messed up even before Richie came around and sent everything straight to hell.
She would never belong in Park’s living room. She never felt like she belonged anywhere, except for when she was lying on her bed, pretending to be somewhere else.”
Though it is a work of fiction, the author beautifully conveyed the tenderness and sensitivities of first love, and the manner in which the young lovers approached each other so gingerly and delicately that this will be your perfect Valentine’s read or even for Single’s Awareness Day!
And and and did you know that Rowell has published her NEW book this year (book cover below)? Have you read it? Tell me what you think!