ELEANOR & PARK is not the witty and light-hearted read that I had expected it to be. Instead, it has trouble deciding whether it wants to be a charming romance or darker exploration into messed-up families. Either one wouldve worked for me, but straddling the two made for what was ultimately an unsatisfying read for me.
Dont get me wrong: I enjoyed watching Park and Eleanors interactions unfold. Theyre an unexpected couple, and it was fun to watch them slowly begin to open up to one another. However, I wasnt convinced that Park and Eleanors relationship endured realistically in their world. I ended up being more interested in Park and Eleanors relationships with their families than their relationship with one another, and felt that one world seemed to always be intruding on the other, in terms of my understanding of each. After a while, I began to be more interested in reading about their interactions with their families, with the result that I felt confused about what the book wanted us to focus our attentions and interests on: the romance that initially sold the book, or the deeper but never thoroughly explored familial relationships that intrigued me more.
ELEANOR & PARK was, for me, a temporarily touching but ultimately forgettable love story where the heavy-handed emphasis on romance crushed the subjectively more interesting aspects of the characters lives, namely their relationships with their families.
Short and Sweet:
A sometimes sweet, sometimes painful story about first love between two 'real' and quirky characters. Eleanor and Park contains many complex elements, including the power of a person's inside qualities to transform their outside attractiveness. This is high school love in all of its awkwardness and anxiety.
Guys, I have to tell you that this one is outside of what I normally read. I don't often read realistic fiction, but I'm really glad I gave Eleanor & Park a chance. Both of these characters reminded me of how it truly is in high school. It is 'I wish I didn't have to take the bus home with those jerks' awful at times. It is surviving the mean kids and if you're lucky finding someone who is cool with you being 'you.'
Rainbow Rowell didn't write pretty characters here. He wrote human, flawed, naive, and sometimes startlingly wise characters. As far as family life, we see both ends of the spectrum here. Eleanor's is broken and full of anxiety and ugliness. Park, however, has a supportive home. This comes into play in the end of the book in a really beautifully heartbreaking way.
Just a really solid book. I hope they make this into a movie. Reminded me a a little of the quirky, heartfelt tone of the movie Juno. I really, really liked this one. :) (Originally published @ http://iheartyafiction.blogspot.com/)