When you’re obsessed with reading, all of your time is spent playing catch up.
For instance, as an English major with two minors, all I did in school was read. Except for that astronomy class I took… And when I wasn’t reading for class, or pretending to have a social life, I was reading things like History of the Rain, Long Days Journey Into Night, and Gone Girl. And since I was trying to keep up with the amazing books coming out, not to mention the whole school library, I was far too snobby to spend my time on YA. No sir, not me. Which is how I missed this one when it first came out.
To be fair, I’m still a snob about YA. But I’m working on it. Enter Rowell‘s Eleanor and Park.
Set in the late 80’s, Eleanor and Park are two lovable and odd high school students. They don’t like each other at first but through music and the X Men, they bond. Which is good, because both their lives are about to get harder.
Eleanor’s home life is rough at best; cramped in a tiny house with her mom, step dad, and siblings, her artistic soul is stifled. But she’s just allowed back in the house after being sent away for awhile so she can’t make waves about the circumstances. Then of course, the girls at school are terrible to her. They mess with her stuff, her clothes, give her a hard time in gym. It isn’t until quite a ways into the school year that she makes friends with two other outcasts.
Park is her light at the end of the tunnel. Once he stops being a jerk, he notices that she’s smart and beautiful in a unique way and decides to befriend her. He has his own issues, with his cultural identity, friends, and his sweet but over bearing parents, but they fit together none the less.
*!=~**~ Spoiler alert
They are #love and Park becomes more upset as Eleanor is bullied more and more. Then we find out that Eleanor’s step dad, who has always been physically and emotionally abusive, wants to assault Eleanor. He’s been leaving some of the more crude notes about Eleanor and immediately she runs. Park helps to get her to relatives in a different state, then Mama and siblings leave as well. Park sends letters and gifts to Eleanor but she’s a jerk and doesn’t respond. So he goes to prom with another girl, who he can barely kiss, and tries to live his life. Then Eleanor sends him a postcard that says ‘I love you.’
Which is a jerk move in my opinion. Like, I understand the whole – they were teenagers in the 80’s- thing but still. Homie went out of his way to try to contact you and keep the love alive and you were like nah and right when he’s trying to be like maybe I’ll move on you’re like jk I’m back and I love you even though I ignored you. Rude. *******
Other than the end, I have no glaring issues. It was sweet and awkward in the teen romance way. Classic high school tropes and lots of fun cultural references. It made some good subtle statements about society without being over the top. Abuse, bullying, family, young adulthood in general. It wasn’t life changing but it was enjoyable.
Coming from a notorious YA nay sayer, that’s high praise. So if you haven’t, pick it up!