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Review: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Title: Eleanor and Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Year Published: 2013

Genre: YA Science-fiction
Pages: 326
Rating: 5 out of 5

Location (my 2013 Google Reading map): USA (Nebraska)

FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my school library

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): Two misfits. One extraordinary love. Eleanor... Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough... Eleanor. Park... He knows she'll love  a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises... Park.

Review: Rainbow Rowell has done it again! The summary of this book so does not convey the wonderfulness of this book! The summary makes it sound like Eleanor and Park are typical teenagers in love: they light up each other's lives; they are dreamy with each other; and they "get" each other when no one else does. But Eleanor and Park are so much more and so is this book. Eleanor and Park is...

  • Heart warming and tender. Neither Park nor Eleanor has ever really dated anyone before and they have no idea how to go about it. Rowell conveys the uncertainty, the worry, the excitement, and the embarrassment of first kisses, holding hands, and more.
  • Frightening. While Park has a nice family with a loving family, Eleanor is not so lucky. There is a constant tension in Eleanor's house and it rears its ugly head often, showing the reader where much of Eleanor's insecurities come from. I was so angry reading the parts about Eleanor's home life with a shrinking violet mother, an angry alcoholic stepfather, and a "home" with no privacy. That makes it seem not bad. But it is bad.
  • Funny and honest. I found myself smiling as I followed Park and Eleanor discovering themselves as well as each other. While some of the scenes are painful or embarrassing, there is also humor in their awkwardness and ability to be brutally honest.
  • Refreshing. It was so great to read a YA book where the main characters aren't drinking, doing drugs, and jumping into bed with one another. Eleanor and Park take their time (and I mean really take their time) getting to know and trust one another. Some of the best writing is about Park holding Eleanor's hand.

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