I recently finished two of Rainbow Rowell’s books, Eleanor & Park and Fangirl. Today I’m going to be reviewing the first one I read, Eleanor & Park.
Let me start of by saying this is not your average love story. This book is much different than most “romance” novels out there. Eleanor is quite different from a girl in the average love story. Her family does not have a lot of money, thus dressing “differently”, and she has a larger build than the usually small and skinny girls featured in love stories. The main male character, Park is also quite different. He is half asian (stated in the book many times) and most people wouldn’t consider him “hot guy” material. This book is refreshing to me, as many YA novels tend to show and portray many stereotypes.
One of my favourite parts of the book is how they got to know each other and how they reached out to each other to become friends, and later, boyfriend and girlfriend. It really all started off with Park offering the bus seat beside him to Eleanor. They didn’t communicate at all, and at the beginning, Park felt embarrassed due to her physical appearance. Park began reading comics on the bus, and Eleanor would always be behind him, reading it. Park caught what Eleanor was doing, and started reading and flipping the pages slower so she would have a chance to read. Soon after, Park started bringing her some of his comics that she could borrow. The other main way that they connected was through music, as Park began making Eleanor mixtapes filled with his favourite songs and artist. They began growing closer to each other, and then became boyfriend and girlfriend.
One of the big themes that came up through out the novel was materialism. Eleanor, being from a family that had a small amount of money, did not have a lot. She wore second hand clothes, and thus dressed “oddly” compared to most of the other kids. She got bullied due to the materialism issue. At first Park felt embarrassed for her, but as they grew closer he began to defend her if someone decided to make fun or tease her for her lack of material. That was one of the big differences between Eleanor and Park shown in the novel. Park was from a well off family and could afford most things he wanted. Eleanor was not so lucky. One of the main examples of their differences of materialism is when Park lends Eleanor his Walkman. She’s worried about using the batteries all up, but Park sees it as no big deal. Even though one of their prime differences is the amount of material Park’s family has compared to Eleanor’s, their close relationship shows that material nor money is needed to love somebody.
Another thing that made me very interested in the book was the characters and the detail Rainbow Rowell has provided you with in the book. I seemed to like most of the characters in the book, as the only ones I didn’t like were not “good” characters (as in Good vs. Evil). Sometimes in the book, I would wonder “why?” about what the characters act and say, thus thinking more about it, and thus enjoying the book more. It may be difficult to realize why characters in the book act and say what they do, but I believe you have to think about what would you do if you were in their shoes, as you would realize what the characters (most of the time) say and do is completely rational. Rainbow Rowell’s amount of detail in the book is off the charts. She describes (pretty much) everything in the story in major detail, even the small characters that come up in the book only once or twice. This makes it easy for people to visualize the scene and the characters for themselves, thanks to the detail provided. I really enjoyed how Rainbow didn’t write in the traditional love story kind of way. The characters are basically the opposite of the stereotypes shown in the average romance novels. Rainbow writes in a way that you are able to relate to them, as they all have flaws that make it easy for people to relate to.
Overall this book was amazing. It has become one of my favourites and I know I will be reaching for this book often. Rainbow Rowell has probably become my favourite novel writer, as I love her style of writing and I find her writing very relatable to me. I believe that this book is worth running out to the bookstore and purchasing it, as I can almost guarantee you will love it.