Putting into words how I felt after reading Eleanor & Park is one of the most personal things I have opted to write since The Silence of the Goats. That is why I have avoided it all these months. Even now, as I get ready to write this recommendation, I am trying really hard to control myself from getting overtly lyrical because it is one of the first books in a long time that has moved me so much.
Still, it wouldn’t be fair for me to romanticise it too much because your experience might be completely different. My only concern is that my gushing may ruin the experience for you, as has happened to me many-a-times from reading reviews and recommendations.
Trust me? Read no further and go download this book RIGHT NOW!
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell: Love in the time of the Walkman and double A batteries
The first thing that runs through Park’s mind when he sees Eleanor is that she looks exactly like the kind of person this would happen to. ‘This’ being getting rejected by every person on the bus who has an empty seat next to them.
Everyone that is, except Park who is most definitely not in love at first sight or even the local do-gooder. Just a social Inbetweener trying to keep the peace.
Also, Rainbow Rowell would have no story if these two teenagers didn’t end up together on that seat of that bus because everything of note to the pain, pleasure and chronic confusion of first love starts right there.
This is probably when I say that this is no ordinary love story, but I won’t. If you recall falling in love with someone at the age of 16, you know it’s immensely ordinary, but that is what makes it extraordinary.
Like the first time Park reaches out and holds Eleanor’s hand and she “disintegrates”, that is one of the most intense, moments in the novel. You forget, in the process of growing up, how intimate early hand holding can be.
Or when Eleanor refuses to borrow Park’s Walkman (it’s set in the 1980s, by the way), instead just emptying out its batteries, and Park goes home and calls his grandmother to tell her that he doesn’t want any presents for his birthday… Just a large supply of double A batteries.
I downloaded Eleanor & Park on a Saturday night with a glass of wine and read it until the early hours of the next morning. I don’t know if it was nostalgia or the wine but I wanted to fall asleep hugging my Kindle that night. It has one of those innocent yet intense first-love stories you just wish was yours, because what makes it so perfect is the knowledge that it will eventually have to end.
Eleanor & Park is a YA novel about young love. But it tells a story that would resonate with audiences across genders (yes, despite all the hand holding) and age groups. It would be one of my top recommendations for anyone looking for a relaxing read that takes you on a wistful journey down… Oh no, I’m gushing, aren’t I?
Anyway, I sincerely hope you will read this book and then return here to share your impressions with me. I would really, really like to know what you think of it!