Review ~ Eleanor & Park

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Cover via Goodreads

Bono met his wife in high school, Park says.
So did Jerry Lee Lewis, Eleanor answers.
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be, she says, we’re 16.
What about Romeo and Juliet?
Shallow, confused, then dead.
I love you, Park says.
Wherefore art thou, Eleanor answers.
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be.

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love—and just how hard it pulled you under. (via Goodreads)

I generally don’t read YA. We’ll get to that in a moment. But I’ve wanted to read Eleanor & Park since, well, since I discovered it existed.

First: When I was a student at UNL, Rainbow Rowell wrote a column for The Daily Nebraskan, the campus newspaper. I enjoyed her writing a great deal. Heck, I still have a clipping from Dec. 1994 about mothers and daughters. Rowell always had a reasonable voice; a little geeky, a little neurotic, but still sensible. A few years back, I realized that she was writing for the Omaha World-Herald, and a while after that, that she’d published a couple novels.

Second: Eleanor & Park is set in Omaha in 1986 and I grew up in Omaha in the 80s and 90s. There’s a certain weirdness to reading about things you *know*. Those gym suits? The red and white onsie with the zipper? Yeah, I wore one of those. The Old Market? Drastic Plastic? The Antiquarium? Been to those places. The hair styles, the music. The cliques. I’m talking heavy nostalgia here.

So, the book. And YA and my relationship to it. During a class discussion of Romeo and Juliet in the book, Park gives an answers as to why the play has lasted four hundred years: “Because people want to remember what it’s like to be young.” I’m 39 years old. The experience of being 16 is over half my life ago. What YA has to do for me at age 39 is make me remember what it was like to be young. Whether it was the setting, or era, or the author (an Omahan a couple years older than me), or the two smart, geeky protagonists, Eleanor & Park felt real to me. For better and worse, it made me remember what it was like to be young.

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication date: February 26th 2013
Genre: YA contemporary-ish, 1986 is contemporary, right?

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4 thoughts on “Review ~ Eleanor & Park

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