Rob Slaven's Reviews > Eleanor and Park

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
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's review
Feb 20, 2013

really liked it
bookshelves: first-reads
Read in December, 2012

As usual I received this book from GoodReads as part of a giveaway. Also as usual, despite the very kind and generous consideration of getting a free book, I give my candid opinions below.

The year is 1986. Eleanor, a teenager abused by her stepfather and neglected by her desperate mother, meets Park, a nice, normal boy of the grunge set. The rest is left as an exercise to our potential reader.

Qualitatively speaking, I found Rowell's rendering of this all-too-common situation uncommonly realistic. Having myself been a boy immersed in new love many ages ago, her descriptions of the all-encompassing palpitations of youthful amour rang with truth. Her style is easy to assimilate and makes for a quick and leisurely read. She also renders her chosen setting, 1986 Omaha, with skill and accuracy.

I will say that as a 'young adult' novel, which I believe this to be designated by the publisher, it comes off a bit strong. There is little content of a directly sexual nature but the profusion of four letter words is bothersome. I suppose it depends on what your definition of 'young adult' is but I'd feel a bit wrong handing this to my daughters until they are late in their teens.

In summary, Rowell does a great job of capturing that spark of youthful love that we all hopefully find at some point in our lives. Her characters are well rendered and one could easily believe she knew these people in real life (as I suspect she did). It captures well the fleeting and potent emotions of youthful love.
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