Eleanor & Park
by Rainbow Rowell
Published: 28th February 2013
Eleanor is the new girl in town, and with her chaotic family life, her mismatched clothes and unruly red hair, she couldn’t stick out more if she tried.
Park is the boy at the back of the bus. Black T-shirts, headphones, head in a book – he thinks he’s made himself invisible. But not to Eleanor… never to Eleanor.
Slowly, steadily, through late-night conversations and an ever-growing stack of mix tapes, Eleanor and Park fall for each other. They fall in love the way you do the first time, when you’re young, and you feel as if you have nothing and everything to lose.
I bought this book at the same time as I got Attachments from a huge Waterstones in Liverpool. I’d heard great things about this book in particular, and heard a lot of Rainbow Rowell fans say this one was their favourite of the three she had published. It must be said I saved the best until last.
There is no better place to begin discussing a Rainbow Rowell novel than the fantastic characters she creates. This author writes complex, and authentic characters with such flair and grace. In turn, this makes the novels gripping and emotionally charged. This novel in particular is the epitome of those things.
Each character has flaws, which I love, because this makes them real. I don’t like reading about characters that have been moulded into an image of perfection, because I end up frustrated with them.
I want to read a novel with characters that are quirky and unique, so I can relate to them, and engage with them. Eleanor is just that, she is quirky and original. Outwardly, she dresses almost flamboyantly, and appears to not care what others think. Once getting to know the character, you see she is vulnerable and self-conscious. Similarly, Park appears to be suave, and nonchalant. In reality, he’s also dealing with insecurities. Just like most, if not all, teenagers.
Again, with dialogue, the author writes beautifully mastered dialogue that represents the age group. It’s completely authentic, and works well for the characters. The novel is set in 1986, so that time frame is also represented well. I love the references to cassette tapes, and to comics. It builds the world nicely for people that weren’t around in that year, or are from a different country or culture.
Together, Eleanor and Park are adorable, and you route for them from the beginning. Rowell writes romance wonderfully, and I love that it’s never nauseating. I’m fascinated over how she makes the smaller moments significant, and intimate. Just the mere touching of hands is full of tension and fizz.
The main thing I love about this book is that it is written from dual perspectives. This means that I got to know both character on another level, and it intensified their relationship. I found it a fantastic addition, and it adds depth to the relationship, because you understand how both parties are feeling about the same situation.
Overall, this is yet another brilliant novel from Rainbow Rowell. I could discuss this book until I’m blue in the face. There are so many aspects to talk about, and I can’t do it justice. This book is definitely my favourite so far from this author, and I’m very much looking forward to reading her latest novel, Landline.
It is a beautiful reminder of how powerful young love can be. Please give this novel a try.