Monday, February 10, 2014

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor and Park meet on the school bus.  Park thinks Eleanor is a freak and Eleanor doesn't think much of him either.  But slowly, over shared comic books and music, they can't be apart from each other.  But not even their relationship can alleviate what's happening in Eleanor's home, and it's not something that Park can help her fix.

The way Eleanor and Park are shown falling in love was great.  It was perfectly captured how it made absolutely no sense at all.  It didn't happen immediately.  But they grew on each other.  Like fungus.  And then they couldn't remember how they could have ever not liked each other, even though they both clearly remember how they didn't.  That sentence didn't really make sense, but I think you know what I mean.

They also didn't see each other as flawless and perfect.  Park has doubts about Eleanor.  He wishes she was friendlier.  Then he feels guilt for wishing she was different.  But he does sometimes.  Eleanor is the same way.  And she never open ups to Park about what is happening in her life, not until the very last minute.

Some spoilers, in the sense that I talk about details from the book.

Park came from such a happy home.  Yes, he had issues with his father.  He wasn't the son his father wished he was, and that was hard for him.  But his parents loved each other, and they loved their children and Park is safe and secure in that love.  Eleanor, on the other hand, has nothing like that.  All she knows about relationships is what she's observed from her mother.  She has nothing positive to compare too.  All she sees in pain and abuse, selfishness and mistrust.  She loves Park, but she never actually says it.  She never is secure enough in their relationship and how Park feels about her to do that.  And how could she after what she's been through?

I was so angry at Eleanor's mother!  Of course, this was a woman in an abusive relationship who felt completely powerless.  But she allowed terrible things to happen to her children, and they happened right in front of her.  Her children were unwashed and unfed in falling apart clothes.  But she was unable to protect them, and she probably wouldn't have been able to protect them even if the worst had happened.  Eleanor had to protect herself, she didn't have any other choice.

Let's talk about the ending.

Eleanor sends Park a postcard, after a year of no contact.  It has three words on it.  It makes Park smile.  I assumed it must say, "I love you," but according to a trusted source who heard Rainbow Rowell speak, that's not what it was.  What was it then?  What else would make Park smile and feel like a weight had been lifted?  Will we ever find out?  Rainbow Rowell says she might not be done with these characters, but I really want this book to be a stand-alone.  I just want to know what the three words were!

Well, I also want to know what happened to Eleanor's brothers and sister, and her mom.  Park goes by the house, and all the kids seem to be gone.  Were they taken by social services? Did Eleanor's leaving push her mother to take the kids and leave too?  Are the kids gone by her mother still there, alone in the house?  I also wondered a lot about that.

So yes, fine, I have questions I'd like answered.  But I still really don't want this to be a series.  Leave it as it is!  Just tell us what was on the postcard!

Great book.  Your kids who love John Green and Sarah Dessen will eat this up.

1 comment:

  1. I haven't read this one, but I have only heard amazing things about it. I love contemporary fiction that evokes emotion, and this one sounds sweet, rich and really evocative. Wonderful review, Arianna! :)


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