Sunday, 9 February 2014

183/111 - Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

This book is very much on the opposite end of the spectrum to the Veronica Roth books. This is grounded in our world with real characters facing real problems, and it was funny, and sad, and believable and totally incredible. I absolutely loved this and I read the entire thing in one sitting. The most amazing thing about this is that it made me feel something other than wanting to roll my eyes.

Eleanor is the new girl at her school, she is large with red hair and an odd fashion sense and generally doesn't fit in. She is also from a poor family who are constantly scrounging to make ends meet, and her mother is a browbeaten woman who is beholden to Eleanor's awful stepfather. Park, on the other hand, comes from a loving family and doesn't want for anything. He is quiet and enjoys reading and listening to music. They meet when Eleanor sits next to Park on her first day of school, and even though he initially doesn't want to be associated with her, a sort of alliance forms between them in the shape of comic books and mix tapes passed between them. Before you know it, they are on speaking terms, then on hand-holding terms, and then on kissing terms. The whole thing is just so tender and sweet, totally the opposite of the books I read earlier that week.

The book alternates from both of their perspectives as they gradually become closer, and the whole time I felt exactly what they felt - tense, anxious, excited, all of it.

There are also lots of topics in there that are pretty uncomfortable to deal with, such as the poverty that Eleanor's family seems to be stuck in - so poor that they don't even have a door to their bathroom and Eleanor is forced to take baths with her mother watching out for her in case her stepfather comes home and catches a glimpse of her. There are some moments in there that made me feel such pity and sadness for Eleanor and her family, and such frustration at some of their actions.

And the ending - so sweet and hopeful and sad. It was just perfect. So good, I don't know what else to say. I was with them the entire time, which in my mind made this such an excellent book.

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