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Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
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Eleanor & Park

by Rainbow Rowell

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Showing 1-5 of 217 (next | show all)
Eleanor and Park are unusual friends, bonding over comic books on the bus. Eleanor is a social liability for Park, but he falls in love with her anyway. She can't fit in she as is extremely poor, so poor she doesn't even have a toothbrush. She is a little overweight and has frizzy red hair; for these reasons and more she is tormented by her step-father (a drunkard) who should be institutionalized. Eventually, Elanor becomes close with Park's family, his mother is a hairdresser and loves to give Elanor tips and make-up samples. Soon she needs to run away and Park helps her. ( )
  knitwit2 | Sep 28, 2014 |
When new girl Eleanor shows up on the school bus one day, things start out very badly for her when nobody wants to make room for her to sit, even though there are still plenty of empty seats left. She's very overweight, has long wild curly, very red hair and is dressed really strangely, and though this is 1986 and new wave music and punk rock rule for some of the kids, her kind of weirdness just doesn't fly. Park happens to be a misfit of sorts too, being the only half-Korean in an otherwise all-white or black Omaha, Nebraska, though he's managed to fly under the radar with strategic friendships and alliances, and he's not sure he's willing to compromise that for the new girl, but he can't help himself from wanting to help Eleanor when he bluntly tells her to just sit next to him on that first day, and there she'll sit henceforth on their daily trips to school and back. He doesn't find Eleanor attractive exactly, but for some reason, he starts sharing his beloved comic books with her, like the [Watchmen] series, and then introducing her to some of his favourite music like The Smiths and The Cure and Alphaville and Elvis Costello (the list goes on and on as the book progresses).

Eleanor has never heard any of this music, so he makes her mixed tapes, but in her typical blunt way she refuses to take the first one, till he finally figures out that she has no way of listening to it. She's just as rude to him when he offers to to loan her his walkman till his kindness and insistence wear her down. They've soon got a friendship going, based on all the things Park likes, which prove to be a salvation for Eleanor. Her home life is a living hell. Her mother's taken up with a violent alcoholic called Richie who doesn't hesitate to hit on his wife on a whim and threaten Eleanor and her four younger siblings with unnamed injuries. They're so poor they don't have a phone in the house, in which the bathroom and the kitchen aren't even separated by a door. To add to her misery, Eleanor is being bullied at school, persecuted by one of the most popular girls, and then regularly finds disgusting pornographic inscriptions on her school manuals which she has no idea who could be putting there.

As friendship progresses to declared love with Park and he invites her into his home, Eleanor knows the respite she finds there with his parents, who slowly come to accept her despite her strange appearance and awkward ways can only be temporary, because her parents, and especially Richie, are bound to find out about this relationship, which over the months she's been passing off as time spent with a fictitious girlfriend, and she knows without a doubt there'll be a price to paywhen Richie finds out. Only things keep getting better and better with Parker, who fills her life with music and makes her feel things she never knew she had the capacity to feel before.

Many people here on LT raved about this book and I remained skeptical about whether I'd like it too, but it ended up being a big winner for me. I happen to be the same age as our two main protagonists, so was just as influenced by most of the music which is mentioned in the book (The Smiths is one of my all-time favourites!), and though thankfully I never had the kind of nightmarish home life Eleanor has, I could definitely identify with her feeling like the odd girl out and the bullied misfit at school. Rainbow Rowell writes sensitively and realistically about what it feels like to be a teenager and to experience love and complete bewilderment and fear, all this in a way that also makes for compelling reading. I'd rate this book as a 4.5, only according to my rating system, that systematically means I want to reread the book, and in this case, once will be an experience I will remember and don't necessarily feel a need to repeat. ( )
2 vote Smiler69 | Sep 27, 2014 |
It is 1986 and, in alternating voices, sixteen-year-old Eleanor and Park tell their stories of love, desperation, fear, heartache and hope. Eleanor sees herself as fat and ugly with curly, tangled red hair that sticks out everywhere. Her father doesn’t want her; her stepfather Richie hates her, while her mother is too beaten up by Richie and life to care anymore. (Read the rest of the review on my blog: http://shouldireaditornot.wordpress.com/2014/08/26/eleanor-park-rainbow-rowell/ ( )
  ShouldIReadIt | Sep 26, 2014 |
I liked this book a lot, I liked the fact that the main characters were normal teenagers,
not some preppy perfect kids where it's all rose petals and moonshine.
The book displayed some real life issues that made this book feel that much more real.
It was beautifully written, showing both perspectives.
It had me wanting more ! ( )
  lisa.isselee | Sep 26, 2014 |
“You saved my life, she tried to tell him. Not forever, not for good. Probably just temporarily. But you saved my life, and now I’m yours. The me that’s me right now is yours. Always.”

It’s 1986 and Eleanor is forever the odd girl out at school due to a combination of her weight, her crazy red hair (causing the nickname “Big Red”) and her eclectic fashion sense. Her home life isn’t any more glamorous where she lives with her mother, her cruel step-father and her group of siblings that all share a room with her. School might not be the sanctuary she might hope for but it’s still an escape. One day, not finding a single seat on the bus, she takes a seat next to half-Korean Park who is almost just as much of an outcast as Eleanor. They begin sitting next to each other every day, not saying a single word to one another and slowly but surely, their relationship grows over comic books and music without words being spoken.

I went a long time without picking this one up. Mostly because I’m extremely selective when it comes to contemporary YA but I had read (other than Fangirl) all of Rowell’s other books and I figured I should at least give it a shot. I didn’t find any real issue with it but it wasn’t a breakthrough novel for me. It likely didn’t help it that I had read Pushing the Limits earlier this year which is extremely similar: opposites attract, one of the two have a bad home life, they develop a strong and ‘unbreakable’ bond that changes their lives. I didn’t really care for Pushing the Limits and I felt about the same for Eleanor & Park. It must be said though that I appreciated the less than perfect girl, Eleanor was overweight with crazy hair and has a mad love for music. I wanted to love her. I loved how we didn’t have the obligatory insta-love, but rather a slow-building love that developed in silence. I wanted to love it, I really did.

When we aren’t given glimpses of Eleanor & Park falling in love, we’re shown just how awful and terrible Eleanor’s home life is. She has to make sure to take her baths when her step-father isn’t home since their bathroom is lacking a door, she can’t afford a toothbrush or batteries for her Walkman which is everything to her, she’s not allowed to have friends over and she’s interrogated fiercely if she leaves the house. Her mother, in fear of her husband, won’t help her and leaves her to suffer his wrath alone. It was heartbreaking yet resonated an honesty that I think is sorely lacking in most YA contemporary. While it was heartbreaking though, it was also hopeful, because Park gave Eleanor a much needed spark that she needed in her life.

So where did it go wrong for me? I loved their slow-build love, their lack of vocalizing, it was obscure and different from any other love story I had read before. It didn’t stick to that same path though, it ended up veering off into typical territory with them declaring their undying love for one another after a few short weeks. I can completely understand finding that person that gives you that spark when you need it most in your life, but must it always transform into a “I simply cannot live without you. I will die.” It’s overboard and dramatic. Their bonding over comic books and music was wonderful and built a friendship between the two of them before the romantic feelings ever came. I kind of wish that it would have been kept as a friendship because I never truly felt the attraction between the two of them like I should have. The aspects of this book I loved, mostly the beginning, still made this well worth the read and I’m glad that I finally picked this up.

From a post on BookRiot “...members of the district’s Parents Action League deemed the Rowell’s breakout YA novel Eleanor & Park “dangerously obscene.” The "too hot for teens and taxpayer money" novel was ordered off school library shelves and there was a call to discipline the school librarians who chose the book.” Also, “The Parent Action League cited 227 instances of profanity in the book (including 67 “Gods”, 24 “Jesuses,” and four “Christs.”) as well as crude and sexually charged material that was inappropriate for students.” Despite my less than glamorous rating, I still feel like this is a valuable read that will open teens eyes and I would personally recommend it to my teens to read. Sure, there’s profanity. Sure, you’d like it if your teens don’t use it but regardless of how sheltered you keep them it’s simply not possible to shelter them from everything. Dangerously obscene. You know what’s dangerously obscene? Banning books. The only thing we’re accomplishing is making sure that our future generations are narrow-minded and in denial about the realities of the world. ( )
  bonniemarjorie | Sep 25, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 217 (next | show all)
I have never seen anything quite like “Eleanor & Park.” Rainbow Rowell’s first novel for young adults is a beautiful, haunting love story — but I have seen those. It’s set in 1986, and God knows I’ve seen that. There’s bullying, sibling rivalry, salvation through music and comics, a monstrous stepparent — and I know, we’ve seen all this stuff. But you’ve never seen “Eleanor & Park.” Its observational precision and richness make for very special reading.
added by melmore | editNew York Times, John Green (Mar 8, 2013)
 

» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Rainbow Rowellprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gorovoy, AnnaDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grlic, OlgaCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Russell, HarrietCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Forest, Jade, Haven, and Jerry - and everyone else in the back of the truck
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He'd stopped trying to bring her back.
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"Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits--smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try"--

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