Laura Zimmerman's Reviews > Eleanor & Park

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
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Feb 04, 2013

it was amazing
bookshelves: first-reads
Read from February 04 to 05, 2013

Although I didn't win this book in a Goodreads giveaway, my fiance did...and he passed it along to me to read. Those who are familiar with my reviews know that I don't often give five stars to books but I think this one deserves that rating.

Eleanor & Park is a story of first love. Eleanor's history is convoluted and dark while Park's history is middle-class American. The two seem to have very little in common yet in spite of their built-in defenses they begin to let down their walls and allow each other in. What follows is an exploration of trust, fear, intimacy, love, despair, maturity, and growth for both kids.

The book is not a feel-good, everything is happy book. It reflects the realities that many people face: poverty, racism, domestic violence, and fear of what may come next. However, it also brings forth many positives: love, personal growth, trust, and growing intimacy. The author's treatment of each character and his/her moments of doubt and growth is poignant and real; I was able to relate to many of the feelings both characters had.

The author has written a book that is easy to read but is also meaningful on several levels. It can be a quick read or it can be taken more slowly if the reader wants to slow down to ponder the undertones and possibilities in the story. Any reader who attended high school will remember similar feelings from their high school days. And, if they are like me, they will recognize that they went to school with kids like Eleanor but didn't realize it at the time.

My general rule for giving a book five stars is that the book has to be one I would happily read again. Eleanor & Park fits the bill. I will likely re-read it in the future but will take more time with it and enjoy the depth of the characters and the writing.
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