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Marginalia: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Marginalia: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

A review of Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell.
The cover of the book Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Books have always been what I rely on when I pine for something I can’t put my finger on. I love books. Perhaps not as much as some of my friends but I’ve always had a thing for books. I immerse in the worlds they offer; I get lost in them. But there had always been a force pulling me away from writing about them. And then I pore over unimportant things.

Reading books, to me, is a very personal experience. For that, I understand that the intensity felt by a person with a book might not be felt by another with the same book. Perhaps that’s the root of my hesitation. At any rate, I’d like to believe that my days of forcing thoughts on other people are way behind me. But if I completely, unfailingly adore a book, it would be a heartbreak to discover that a friend (or my husband) is lukewarm about it.

That’s not the point of reading and sharing thoughts about books, though. So, here we are.

The cover of the book Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell.

Discovering Eleanor & Park

I stopped jumping on bandwagons a long time ago. There are curiosities that don’t fizzle out after a couple of months, however, and that makes them mildly irresistible. I give them a try, but only after when most, if not all, of the hype surrounding them has disappeared. That’s the rule I follow, especially regarding young adult novels. (Yes, I’m 28, married, a mother and I read young adult novels every now and then.)

After my disappointment with The Fault In Our Stars, I veered away from books in the same genre. Until some of the people I follow on Twitter started gushing over Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park. I was still very hesitant, though, until I saw someone posted this quote from the book:

She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.

The catalyst to my finally downloading the ebook was my stress from work. And when I had time to breathe and clear my mind off from monotony, I started learning about Eleanor and Park.

Pardon the brevity of the introduction. This is my first time to “review” a book and while I am immensely entertained by reading through others’ thoughts about their reads, I have a difficulty putting mine into words. But here’s a shot at it.

I finished the book in a day. Albeit being light and easy to read, it was able to elicit various emotions from me. And I’ve always been the kind of reader who expects to feel something about a book. I want to pity or hate or love or ignore characters. Sometimes I would even go as far as to find similarities with characters I connect with.

Quick review

I didn’t fall hard for Park, as some may have. But only because I’ve long stopped having crushes on fictional characters. And that’s not to say that Park isn’t swoon-worthy because he is. (In fact, he does remind me a lot of my husband.) I appreciate that he isn’t too-good-to-be-true (even if we all know that he is, in fact, not real). And I think that makes him more endearing. He’s just a regular teen confused about a lot of stuff in life.

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Now, Eleanor is a piece of work. Her hair’s so big, it’s full of issues. I appreciate how her weirdness is brought about by different factors and that she isn’t the typical young adult protagonist who can’t get a grip of who she is as a person.

Another thing I’m particular about books is the language. And I find it rather difficult not to compare everything I read to the language of White Oleander by Janet Fitch, which is one of the most melodious novels I’ve read. I lower expectations in young adult novels, though. Eleanor and Park wasn’t poetic. But it’s a far cry from novels that came before it.

The plot of Eleanor and Park is rather simple but I appreciate the slight touch on societal issues (sexuality, physical appearance, domestic abuse) and stereotypes. I particularly liked the idea that Park had questions about his sexuality because that is something some people his age really go through. I also appreciated the part where Park’s mom vanquished her presumptions on Eleanor when she learned about her family’s state. And while it’s mostly about the love that blossomed between Eleanor and Park, I appreciate that some of the characters grew (Park’s mom) and were given a different light (Steve and Tina).

Some things that weren’t clear for me, even though they aren’t exactly huge factors in the plot, are 1) what Park’s parents fought about 2) what happened to Eleanor’s siblings while she was away and 3) why Eleanor didn’t answer Park’s letters before she finally thought of sending him the postcard in the end. If you have answers to those, please comment and let me know!

I am completely averse to the idea of rating things but I will say that I enjoyed Eleanor and Park enough to make me start reading Fangirl. I recommend it to people who want a light and easy read but isn’t a waste of time.