|photo credit: @bookishteacher|
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen year olds – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.
Because I had heard so much about Rainbow Rowell and the this book, I was really hesitant to read it due to all the hype. It also seemed to be a mixed bag. Either people really loved it or they couldn’t stand it. Not to mention that I am not that fond of young adult contemporaries and the romanticism that is presented in them, so let’s not get me started on Anna and the French Kiss or Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour, mkay! However, this book totally reminded me of what it was like to fall in love for the first time and I’m so glad that I finally gave it a chance!
Now, I’m not saying that this book made me feel completely “nostalgic” because there are some really heavy topics that these kids have to deal with that I just can’t speak to in my own life. But the story’s ability to let you step back in time and remember that moment when you discovered the possibility that there might be someone out there who understood you was amazing. There is a scene in the book when the main characters are in an English class discussing Romeo and Juliet and the teacher asks Park why that particular play of Shakespeare’s has resonated with so many for over 400 years. Park responds, “[B]ecause people what to remember what it’s like to be young? And in love?” While he’s unsure about his answer, the teacher agrees, replying, “Truer words never spoken.” Experience gives adults the ability to confidently know that this is the case, and I saw this conversation as a casual acknowledgement towards the older audience like myself who are reading this book, which ultimately helped to make the storytelling so timeless. I didn’t have to completely suspend my adult thinking to appreciate what Eleanor and Park had found with each other, while at the same time, I was also keenly aware that my teenage self would have absolutely adored these two characters, hoping they would carve out a place for me alongside them even if it would be third wheel status. This is totally heartwarming and heartbreaking all at the same time, but definitely worth the emotional investment. I’m now adding three of her other books, Fangirl, Attachments, and Landline, to my TBR pile because it’s probably safe to say that I’m now on the Rainbow Rowell bandwagon.