Sunday, September 8, 2013

Eleanor & Park Review

Goodreads description: 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.

My thoughts: After reading a book like Jellicoe Road, it’s seems as if there’s no solution to such a book hangover. That is unless you decide to delve into a story such as Eleanor & Park. I’d made two earlier attempts to start a new book (Ketchup Clouds and The Vile Village) but it was in vain. It took a big girl with a head full of red hair and a half-Asian boy who looks like sunshine to break me from the hold Jellicoe Road had over me. And it actually wasn’t that hard in the end, switching worlds. It probably took me less than a chapter: right after Eleanor sits with Park on the bus for the first time.

It was nice to see two people who didn’t know each other grow into two people who came to need each other. Sometimes, after I realized I’ve grown very close to someone, I wonder how we got there. What I mean is, I wonder how we got from trying to remember each other’s names and getting past the “awkward points” to automatically thinking about the same thing at the exact same time and/or always being together. How did we get so close? Here’s a whole book that takes a couple of strangers and makes them fit so well that any other result would seem ridiculous.

And in this case, Eleanor and Park’s love story is like a bowl of ice cream. It’s great by itself, but what gives it that extra something is everything else, aka the proverbial cherry on top.

- I don’t remember ever having a female main character in a YA book be big. This is so much so that even with my imagination, there was a limit to how she looked in my head. And in fact sometimes I couldn't imagine her at all past the red hair.

- Park’s family and upbringing: Here’s a guy that knows kung fu, not because his mom is Korean, but because his dad loves it. A guy whose parents have basically the same routine every day when they see each other that includes making out. A guy who’s grandparents give him a kiss-me-I’m-Irish shirt every year. Basically his family is made of awesome, and not in a they’re-perfect kind of way, but in a they’re-awesome-because-they-love-each-other-and-they’re-trying kind of way. It was so different from Eleanor’s situation with her family, which in some scenes (especially with her mom and/or step-dad) made my insides go rotten.

This is one of those stories with scenes that warmed my heart right before it was (temporarily) wrenched from my chest. But that made the story accessible and As a person who doesn't usually have the patience to re-read a book, the writing was so on point that I'd never mind revisiting this world. Basically it made me feel all-the-things! And what’s better than that?

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