In [two] word[s]: Totes adorbs
When I first started this book, I was not charmed. I found it annoying, overdramatic, and a little abrasive (This is often my first impression of high schoolers, so I should not have been surprised, given the two teenaged narrators.). But I was trapped in a rocking chair with a sleeping baby and nothing to read but my Kindle app, so I kept going… and I fell in love.
This story is just the cutest. The narration flips back and forth between the two main characters, giving us two insights into the events that are unfolding. Both protagonists are misfits in their own way: she’s the new kid, overweight and badly dressed, he’s half-Korean and nerdy. They share a seat on the bus. Although they don’t speak at first, they slowly bond over comic books and mix tapes. As their relationship develops, the sexual tension becomes the school bus in the room every time they’re together.
Somehow this novel manages to be sweet and overblown in all the right ways without being melodramatic or saccharine. Part of it is the matter-of-fact perspective of the characters themselves (there is no narrator to bog the story down with commentary or description). Part of it is the harsh setting: this sweet love story unfolds between characters who deal with abuse, poverty, bullying, and clueless parents.
I devoured this story and reached the ending in less than 24 hours. I hadn’t been watching my progress bar and was totally unprepared for the story to be over. I texted Leslie: “DROP EVERYTHING. BUY THIS BOOK AND READ IT TODAY. TELL ME WHAT DOES THE POSTCARD SAY???”
As I’ve stated before, I am very easily persuaded into reading things. I had read a book by Rainbow Rowell before (Fangirl-also a really fun read), so I was eager to try out Eleanor & Park. I completely agree with Lindsey’s assessment-it was a perfect YA book. Completely dramatic, but also adorable. I also read it in about 24 hours and immediately called Lindsey to chat about it.
After the abrupt ending, I did a little searching on Rainbow Rowell’s website, and I thought this quote was a perfect summary of why I loved the way she closed out the story:
I mean, I know it’s not really an ending; there aren’t wedding bells and sunsets. This isn’t the end for these two people. It’s just where we leave them.
But they’re 17 years old.
And I don’t believe that 17-year-olds get happy endings. They get beginnings.