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Friday, 25 April 2014

Review: Eleanor and Park

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Release date: 28th February 2013
Genre: Contemporary / Romance
Target audience: YA
UK Publisher: Orion

Eleanor & Park is a moving tale of first love. It’s also an emotive story about family dysfunction and bullying. It’s a story of survival and how love can get you through.

Eleanor steps on the bus to school for the first time and Park wonders why she’s made herself such an easy target. Big and bright red hair aren’t enough, she has to wear crazy clothes too. He thinks she’s brave but probably crazy. He doesn’t want to have anything to do with her in the first moment. But he can’t stop himself from telling her to sit down. From that moment, their lives change. Perhaps not immediately but when you sit next to someone every day, you have to speak to them sooner or later. Behind those first impressions are real people, it takes a while to peel back the layers but that is the beauty of this novel.

I’d only heard great things about this book but I didn’t really know what to expect when I started it. Sometimes when a book is this popular all the comments just become one big buzz without any clear definition about why it is so worth reading.

This is a love story. A beautiful, touching love story. But it is also a story of survival. It’s about getting through the next day and how hard that is to do when you’re alone. The love Park has for Eleanor helps her keep going day after day even if she can’t quite understand why he wants to be with her.
I found the crisis moment of the story quite harrowing. Eleanor’s life is so convincing. The neglect she experiences, the domestic violence of the home she lives in and the emotional abuse she faces. Reading this book, you know that there are young people out there in the world living in these difficult family situations and it makes the book all the more powerful.

I think I’m making this sound like a sad book. And it is in some ways and not in others. There is joy and hope in this story. It’s in the sharing of comics, the hopeful lyrics to songs, the holding of a hand. It’s in a smile which is given just for one person to understand.

Eleanor & Park will make you smile and it might just make you cry. I couldn’t wait to finish this book. It gets you right inside. A beautifully crafted novel and a beautiful story which will make you stop everything until you finish it. There isn’t a word to change here. Exceptional.

Source: Bought from the bookshop at SLA Belfast.

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