Monday, 27 May 2013

Devouring Books: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

"He tried to remember how this happened- how she went from someone he'd never met to the only one who mattered."

I finished Eleanor and Park abouuut a month ago now, and I finished it on the day I started it (it was a 24 hour readathon day, admittedly, but I feel like I wouldn't have been able to spread it out much further if it hadn't been). Ever since then, I've had a weird review paralysis about it, which I put down to two things:

  1. I really and truly liked it an incredible amount, and it's always so difficult to know how to go into that without just spouting out loads of things I liked about it and potentially spoilering the shit out of it, or just quoting LOADS of the sweetest lines (because there are A LOT), and
  2. I made the mistake of reading some reviews on Goodreads because I didn't know how to approach my own, and just read loads of people going 'so it's better than blah blah YA book, but it still does blah blah THIS thing that's in a lot of YA books' and I sort of panicked and went 'I don't know what you're talking about, stop saying things!' And this is why I'm never reading reviews on Goodreads AGAIN.
So yeah. I don't read a lot of YA, but I do and will pretty much always read anything Rainbow Rowell writes because she's kind of magic. Attachments was SPECTACULAR, and Eleanor and Park was no different- the characters feel so real and also wonderful (but not PERFECT, because that would be dull), the relationship between Eleanor and Park, which the book pretty much hangs on, feels, if not real (no boy ever shared his comics with ME on the school bus [I never took the school bus...]) so so sweet and lovely and imperfectly perfect that I just wanted to keep reading about it all night long.

Which, I pretty much did! And then I ran out of pages and I was sad and THAT is how I ended the 24 hour readalong because I couldn't even face reading something else after that. And I don't know if this means I should read more YA, or if it just reconfirms that I LOVE RAINBOW ROWELL, but either way, I was very strongly infatuated with this book for a quite a few hours. And I guess I kind of still am a bit now.

And now! To cover up the fact that this has barely been a review at all, I'm just going to talk about A Thing that I really really enjoyed from Eleanor and Park. Because, you see, while I'm really fond of Park,  I was kind of in love with Eleanor- she's the kind of person who sticks out, and instead of trying to blend in, she kind of embraces the fact that she doesn't. Which doesn't mean that she WANTS to stick out, but since she does, she doesn't spend her time just trying to fit in, she just goes with it. This is basically all I need to like a character, and just a person in life, generally.

There's this one point in the book where Park's mother (who is a hairdresser and general beauty-person)  is desperate to give Eleanor a makeover, and Eleanor is pretty reticent about it. And during this, Park's mother asks her why she doesn't wear makeup, and Eleanor thinks (but doesn't say, because she's not an idiot) 'Because makeup is a lie.' And I was like... Wow. And this isn't even how I feel about makeup, really (I mostly feel like 'I am much too lazy for this shit') but it's absolutely something that NOBODY says, ever, and I'm like 'YESSSSSSS, women don't have to wear makeup, whose idea was that and LOOK at this character who thinks differently and YESSSSSSSS!' some more. And THEN Park figures out that he likes wearing eyeliner, and I'm like 'LET'S SUBVERT TRADITIONAL GENDER ROLES, YESSSSSSSS RAINBOW!!'
So there's that. And it's fab. And then there are all the other things that are awesome about it that I DON'T want to tell you about because discovering things for yourself! It's fun! But if you want to read about characters who don't quite fit in and who like things that are awesome-but-not-necessarily-mainstream, and who aren't grossly teenagery, then you should definitely read this. And if you don't like any of these things then you should still read it, because there's something for everyone to love. If they're awesome.

30 comments:

  1. I feel like I need this book like my life depends on it. All my favourite people are just saying the best things about it and I am utterly powerless to resist. Peer pressure? Potentially. All the same, it sounds pretty amazing. And it's about someone called Eleanor and how could a person called Eleanor not like that? That would just be weird. Anyway, I'm going on a plane next week so I may just treat myself to it as a plane read because flying utterly sucks and this may stop it sucking quite so bad. Also, I love subverted gender roles.

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    1. I might have sliiightly overstated the subverted gender roles thing (the thing that I mentioned is basically it!) But there are definitely no cliches or the-guy-being-tough and the-girl-being-all-saved and stuff. And OMG this would be so good to read on a plane! Seriously. Augh, I hope you like it, I'm all nervous now!

      And oh yeah. The name thing. I TOTALLY DO THAT!! (Mainly cause no one calls their characters Laura because it's a pretty boring name, so when there's a Laura it's like eeeeeee!! Hehe)

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  2. Yes and yes and yes again. I LOVED THIS BOOK :) Stay away from those Goodreads reviews..blech ;)

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    1. Hahahaha, I know right?! It's not even that they were BAD so much as they just freaked me out and made me feel, like, underqualified to review this or whatever. But screw them!! YAY ELEANOR AND PARK :D

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  3. I have nothing to add because I haven't read this yet BUT it arrived in the mail yesterday!!! YAYAYAYAYAY!

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    1. WOOHOOOOOOO! Get on it, stat!!

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  4. I read this during the readathon and just mini-reviewed it today as well. It was probably my favorite of the year so far. So cute...

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    1. Wasn't it SO cute? But also in an interesting way, and not just a BLEURGH teenage love way? And it was way deeper than I thought it was going to be, and there were ISSUES, and ugh, I just loved it :)

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  5. "and I sort of panicked and went 'I don't know what you're talking about, stop saying things!'

    Ahahahaha

    Yes.

    I need to reread this, because I liked it, but I still liked Attachments more. And I feel like I would at least like this more than I did if I looked at it again. ALL THE RAINBOW BOOKS.

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    1. I think... I *think* I liked Attachments more, but I feel like that's because it's more about friendship than like a relationship and I was totally into that? But then I do LOVE Eleanor and Park as a couple and stuff. But yeah, you should of course read this again because it's EXCELLENT. And then also read Attachments again. And so on.

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  6. Rainbow Rowell strikes again! I read Attachments and absolutely LOVED it because I soooo wanted them to be my friends in real life! Can't wait to read this one, especially since one of the protagonists is into guyliner.

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    1. Same! And I soooo want Eleanor to be my friend (as a teenager) because I looove her. Rainbow writes good characters, man!

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  7. Rainbow Rowell is a freaking genius. She just did a lot of really hard things really awesome-ly in this book. I assure you, it's not common for a lot of YA to be THIS good.

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    1. That is good to know! I feel very much like I do the right thing with YA, which is only read the stuff that people who don't only read YA rave about (does that sentence even make sense?!) But anyway, just the suuuper popular stuff because there's usually a reason for it, as there is with this. She's just, yeah, a super awesome writer. I would pretty much read anything she writes.

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  8. Just finished it on Friday! Loved it! I SCREAMED when I read the last page. With joy, of course. :DDDD

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    1. Ohhhh yes! I mean, I didn't scream but I did, you know, in my head :). I was actually completely not expecting it as well, but eeeeee!

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  9. I cannot wait to get my hands on this book! I loved Attachments too.

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    1. It is SO GOOD! Go and get it immediately! I *think* I liked Attachments maybe a tiny bit better, but honestly? It's still amazing.

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  10. I need to read this. I don't know why I haven't yet, other than I think I will love it so much so I keep putting it off because what if I don't??? For other examples of this ridiculousness, please see Moranthology.

    Also the YA-ness of this is probably helping me to put it off.

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    1. Hehehe, oh Alley, you and your craziness :). I did sort of put it off a little bit (for a few weeks) because yeah, I was a bit like 'ARGH, what if I don't like it?!' but ALSO 'what if I like it TOO much and end up reading forever and not going to work or ANYTHING?' Hence, the readathon reading. But READ IT! You'll love it, I'm sure. Don't be scared of the YA-ness, because other than being about teenagers, it's not that YA-ish? Although I know little of these things (obviously) so all I know is that I loooooved it!

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  11. I clearly need to read some Rainbow Rowell! :) Chris had already had me put this on my TBR list, but you've made me bump it up quite a bit!

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    1. Yay!! Attachments is also EXCELLENT if you want to stick that on the list toooo :)

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  12. I'm too lazy to read through the comments to see if anyone has mentioned John Green but the way that you squee about this one makes me think of John Green and possibly David Levithan (I can really only name those two because I don't read a lot of YA but have loved them both). And this type of review is pretty much what I wish every blogger did. I still know nothing about the actual book but really really want to read it. Pat on the back Laura. :)

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  13. I have this from the library and it's next in the to-read queue. But I laughed and laughed the other day because my mom called me to tell me that she read Attachments AND Eleanor & Park and wanted so badly to talk about both of them. And then she was like, "Are you FRIENDS with this Rainbow person? Would you tell her that your 60-year-old mother loves her books and they're not just for you young people?" And so I did. But also she was a little surprised that E&P was meant for young adults, because she found it somewhat scandalous in places? This concludes my mother's review of Eleanor & Park.

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    1. Megs, I love that your mom still wants to talk about books with you! You should add a guest segment for her on your blog, heheh

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    2. Ahhh yes! Meg's Mama mmmmmmmm I can't think of an M word for reading/reviewing but I will be SUPER disappointed if you don't do this now Meg!

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    3. Peer pressure! My mom is sometimes hilarious...although usually inadvertently. I shall broach the subject with her.

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    4. Yesssss. cave into eeeeet.

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    5. Peer pressure is the best kind of pressure!!



      (for us)

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  14. This isn't a book I'd heard of (guess I'm not one of the cool kids!), but it does sound fun.

    Marlene Detierro (Gold Buyer)

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