1.The El DeBarge mention cracks me up. (Isn’t part-Korean Park supposed to look like Eldred himself?) It’s actually El’s 54th birthday today. Aren’t you wondering why I know that?
2. The book is set in 1986, the year I graduated. So, Rainbow Rowell kinda had me at 1986. Although…I did not appreciate the Foreigner dis, sister!
3. “I just want to break that song into pieces and love them all to death,” is just one of oodles of yummy quotes from Eleanor. I am going to start using that line when I talk about delicious songs such as “Jukebox Hero” by FOREIGNER.
4.“When she saw Park standing at the bus stop on Monday morning, she started giggling. Seriously giggling like a cartoon character…when their cheeks get all red and little hearts start popping out of their ears. It was ridiculous.” More Eleanor word swag.
5. Redolent sensory descriptions abound, giving the romance more snap, crackle and pop. Example: Eleanor describes Park’s trench coat as smelling “like Irish Spring and a little bit like potpourri and like something she couldn’t describe any other way than boy.” Rainbow Rowell wields the five senses like a Samurai sword, and holy moly, does it ever pay off!
6. Eleanor is fat, (or is she?), weird, and poor, and yet Park loves her for her beautiful soul (just to quote Aaron Carter). This inspires me. Eleanor and what she faces also cracked my heart in pieces. I wanted to book travel through the pages and taser her stepdad until his eyelashes fell out. Poor, broken, beautiful Eleanor! It hurt me to think there were real girls facing such trauma and neglect. Eleanor made them real to me.
7. Park is adorable, and not just because I am biased towards Koreans (I have a Korean daughter): “(Park) couldn’t buy Eleanor a pen. Or a bookmark. He didn’t have bookmarklike feelings for her.” Bookmarklike feelings…swooning over here. Someone get me the smelling salts!
8. Park’s parents are some of the most realistic literary parents I’ve ever read—almost as great as Hazel Grace’s folks in “The Fault in Our Stars.” As much as I loved Eleanor and had great compassion for her terrible plight, I, too, would have a hard time if one of my boys dated someone so deeply fractured, through no fault of her own. Because as we all know, the cost of loving Eleanor is high, too high for high school.
9. I relished the wordplay and wicked evocative prose and heartrending storytelling. But I still liked “Attachments” by Rainbow waaaay better. Maybe because I spent 17 years of my life as an entertainment writer for a Midwest city newspaper, like the main character, Beth? Also, too much swearing and vulgarity in “Eleanor and Park.” Call me priggish. I think it was unwarranted.
10. One last quote from the book, this time from Park: “You would think that holding someone hard will bring them closer. You think that you can hold them so hard that you’ll still feel them, embossed on you, when you pull away.” Embossed. Swooning, again!
11. And finally, a quote from that other master of YA fiction, John Green: “Eleanor & Park” reminded me not just what it’s like to be young and in love with a girl, but also what it’s like to be young and in love with a book.”
To put that in my own words, “Eleanor and Park” brought me back to the 80’s, and not just because the book was set there. It reminded me of butterflies, weak knees, and falling hard—maybe for the wrong guy. It reminded me of how a humdinger of a story can come to vivid life in the hands of a masterful writer.
What say you guys? Did you love it, hate it, meh? How would you compare it to “The Fault in Our Stars”? (this links to my blog on tfios, my #2 most-read blog.)