19 December 2014

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

It's taken me a while to get my hands on a copy of ELEANOR & PARK. The wait list was in the hundreds for it. Four months after adding it to my hold list, it finally arrived.

I read it in a day and a half. (It would have been a single day, were it not for Day Job.)

I can see why it's so loved, and why there's such anticipation for the film adaptation that Rowell is penning.

ELEANOR & PARK is the first YA romance I've read that seemed to capture - truly, honestly capture - that intense insecurity that I remember as a teenager. Both Eleanor and Park are uncomfortable in their own skins, unsure of what the other sees in them, embarrassed by their bodies and their lives in all kinds of different ways. And the book shines its brightest when they realize that love means seeing through those hang-ups - not only seeing through them, but loving them and embracing them.

What a powerful story to tell. What a fine example to set.

It was interesting to me that ELEANOR & PARK was told in third person, and from both characters' POVs. The only other romance I've read that did it this was was SAY WHAT YOU WILL. And while I enjoyed SAY WHAT YOU WILL, I absolutely adored ELEANOR & PARK. It's on my purchase list now, though that will have to wait until January. If I don't stop loving so many books I will have a giant list come the new year.

I took lots of notes on ELEANOR & PARK. It's one of those books that I imagine pretty much anyone writing YA has to read. There's something intangible that Rainbow Rowell captured so perfectly, and it's something that all of us have to face: how to capture that intense, fleeting feeling of life as a teenager, when everything seems so full of possibility but every decision is life or death.

This book will require further study. And you know what? That will be some enjoyable studying.