Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Age Group: Young Adult
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.
Summary from Goodreads.There's a line in Eleanor and Park where, when Eleanor is describing her feelings for Park, she says, "I want to eat his face." Well, I want to eat this book.
From the moment I read the first page, I could not put it down. The chapters are short and the writing style is amazing, which basically meant that I was reading while walking and eating, and giving up sleep in order to read some more. I was so invested in the characters within the first few chapters that I just had to know what they were going to do next.
So yes, the characters really are the best part of the book (which is good because, you know, they're the focus). What makes them so interesting- them being the title characters, but also the supporting cast- is that they are all flawed, but nearly all of them are redeemable. Eleanor and Park help each other to overcome many of their insecurities, which is just one aspect of their relationship that is so touching. Meanwhile, you have their relationship with their parents (I love Park's parents), their classmates, and themselves, as they try to figure out their lives. So yes, there's a lot packed into this book. But with how seamlessly Rowell incorporates everything, it doesn't feel that way at all.
Another aspect of Eleanor and Park that is executed so extremely well is the pacing. Their relationship feels so natural even though- or perhaps, especially because- they're such an unlikely pairing. The pacing is just another factor that made me want to keep reading because it just kept pulling me along, deeper into the story.
There's so much more I could say about this book, such as how much I loved that it's set in the 80s (mix tapes! phone calls instead of texting!). But one thing I really want to mention is that this book proves that not all romances are fluff, because this is anything but. There is a lot of serious content in here, which just adds to how poignant and realistic this book is. I laughed and gasped and cried while reading E&P; when I finished, I just sat there, trying to wrap my head around this story. That's how good Eleanor and Park is.
As for the ending, it's perfect. I won't say whether it ends happily or tragically- no spoilers policy and all that- but it fits the book. While it's clearly understandable, there's just the right amount of ambiguity, and it's really just perfect.
A Quote from the Book: "I just want to break that song into pieces and love them all to death."
What makes a book un-put-downable for you?