It’s been almost two weeks since I finished a book, but today I completed my 7th of the 2016 Reading Challenge: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. Having only read and enjoyed Fangirl, I had high expectations. Unfortunately the hype was too much.
Title: Eleanor & Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Favourite character: Park Sheridan
Category: #10 A New York Times bestseller
“If you can’t save your own life, is it even worth saving?”
Told over the duration of a school year, the novel tells the love story of 16 year-old Eleanor and Park, who fall in love, despite coming from entirely different backgrounds: Eleanor lives with her mother, aggressive step-father and four younger siblings. Park is surrounded by his loving family: his middle-class parents, younger brother and his grandparents.
The two are thrust together out of necessity and their friendship blossoms into young love over comic books and cassette tapes. Eleanor & Park deals with serious issues such as poverty, oppression and harassment through the dual perspectives of the protagonists.
Whilst the relationship itself was sweet, I found that the supporting characters were the most interesting, most notably Park’s parents and Eleanor’s hateful step-father, Ritchie.The thing I most appreciated about this novel was how flawed the characters are, and that they accepted and apologised for them. There wasn’t one instance of a truly perfect character, which made this novel feel all the more real.
The general pace of the novel was good, although there were some repeated scenes which added nothing to the story. The most disappointing thing was that the conclusion was abrupt and left unanswered questions. However, I loved the plot twist which I definitely did not see coming!
Whilst I wasn’t as impressed with Eleanor & Park as I was with Fangirl, I’m definitely going to continue reading Rainbow’s novels (in fact I have Attachments, Landline and Carry On lined up on my shelf ready and waiting to be read). Sometimes hype can lead you to a mind-blowingly fantastic novel, but other times it falls a little flat. You live and you learn.
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