Published February 2013 by St. Martin’s Press|262 pages
Where I Got It: Nook store
Genre: YA Contemporary
One extraordinary love.
Eleanor… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough…Eleanor.
Park… He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises…Park.
Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.
What I Thought:
I finally got over my hesitation of reading Eleanor & Park. I’ve been really hesitant to read it, because so many people love it, and I was terrified it wouldn’t live up to the super-high expectations I had for it.
Unfortunately, when I go in with high expectations, I am almost always disappointed, and this was (very sadly) the case with Eleanor & Park. It really turned out to be okay, mostly because I don’t care enough to put in an effort to dislike the book.
I didn’t really find either character compelling, and I felt like they were pretty bland. I don’t need to connect with characters or with what’s going on in their lives to like a book (but it is a preference) but I just didn’t connect to either of them, and as the book went on, I cared less and less about them. Park was a bit too understanding and patient and perfect (for me) and Eleanor…I understand why she acted the way she did, but it was frustrating that it not only took her so long to actually do something about her family life but to leave her siblings at home. Also: why do we not learn what happens with her siblings?
The romance did NOTHING for me. I’m not one to talk about insta-love- I’m actually pretty neutral about it- but in this case? I felt like there was no chemistry between Eleanor and Park, and it did feel a bit insta-lovey to me.
The ending…it wasn’t as heart-breaking or as emotional as I was expecting, but maybe you need to care about the characters in order for that to happen. What happened to Eleanor was horrible, and I will admit that it was the only time I even STARTED to feel something, but at that point, it was too late, you know? And where was this for the rest of the book?
I was definitely expecting the nostalgia I felt in Fangirl, but I didn’t feel it at all. I wasn’t brought to that time in my life at all, which was disappointing, because I wanted to feel the nostalgia and all the feelings, and it just wasn’t there. I don’t know if it’s because the book was set in the 80’s- I was born in ’86, so I don’t remember/was too little to remember the decade, or if it’s for some other reason. Regardless of when the book was set, I still feel like I should have felt the nostalgia, and I just…didn’t. I don’t know if it’s because I never experienced that in high school (or, well, ever) but I still kind of feel like I should have been able to feel that regardless of whether it’s something I’ve experienced myself.
And the shifting POV kind of worked, but not really. I just hated that, at times, narration would shift back and forth for one sentence. It was dizzying at times, and it got really frustrating.
I really wish that Eleanor & Park worked for me, and while I normally get why people love a book that I don’t, this is one of the rare cases where I don’t get it. I don’t know if I’m just missing something, or if it’s just not the book for me, or if it’s because I went in with high expectations and was bound to be disappointed, or a combination of many different things.
Let’s Rate It:
Eleanor & Park is a book that in theory, I should dislike, but I just don’t care enough to dislike the book. It’s not that it’s a bad book, but it’s not my cup of tea. Eleanor & Park gets 2 stars.