Monday, December 17, 2012

Dear Book, You Smashed My Heart to Pieces

Expected Publication: March 5th, 2013
Eleanor & Park
By: Rainbow Rowell
St. Martin's Press
ISBN-13: 9781250012579

"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 sixteen."
"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, ELEANOR AND PARK 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.


Review

     Eleanor has just moved back in with her Mom and siblings after being kicked out by her Step-Dad a year ago for refusing to bow down to his authority - or his abuse and volatile moods.  She's got crazy red, curly hair, wears ill-fitting thrift store clothes and is overweight.  Park is just trying to stay unnoticed, which he's managing although it's not easy when you're half Korean and half White.  When Eleanor starts riding the same bus as Park and the other kids immediately begin to bully and reject her, he reluctantly lets her sit next to him.  At first they don't talk or even acknowledge each other.  Then she begins to read his comic books over his shoulder and he waits for her to turn the pages.  Park starts talking about music with her and making her mix tapes, giving her batteries for her un-used walkman at home.  It isn't long before they're defying the odds and starting to have romantic feelings for each other.  But with Eleanor's abusive Step-Dad always in the background waiting to strike and Park's disapproving Mom, will they be able to make things work?  And when Eleanor is forced to leave hom yet again and go live with her Uncle out of state, will they be torn apart for good? 
     I absolutely loved this book.  Those are the only words that I have for it, even if they aren't quite the right ones.  Eleanor's home situation was something that hit really close to home for me.  I grew up as the poor kid in class, rejected and bullied by my classmates for being different.  Luckily, while my Dad was a verbally abusive alcoholic, he wasn't physically abusive.  But I do know what it feels like to be afraid to go home and to have no one at school to turn to.  Park's life is normal and happy for the most part, but he's struggling with identity issues and the idea that his Dad doesn't understand him, or love him as much as his brother, Josh. 
     I felt like the gradual build-up of the relationship was very believeable.  Eleanor's prickly personality and relctance to accept help or 'charity' was very real to me.  It's all about pride, when you really have nothing else left.  Whereas in most books I read gushy romance rubs me the wrong way, I felt like Eleanor and Park were both so innocent and sheltered, that it rang true to me.  She was old in other ways, but romance was strange and new to her.  There was always a hint of cynicism that kept the "I-can't-live-without-yous" from getting to sickly sweet and unpalatable.  The ending and the way their relationship sort of dies and gets pushed away because of the distance really smashed me to pieces as a reader.  But it was so true that I couldn't help but nod my head and sigh in understanding.  I think this might be one of the best books I've read this year and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes a good, realistic teen romance, but doesn't mind some heartbreak along with it.

VERDICT:  5/5  Stars

*received an Advanced Reading E-book Copy from the publisher, via NetGalley. No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book's expected publication date is March 5th, 2013.*

3 comments:

  1. Hi there, the December edition of Books You Loved is open for entries. Here is the link Books You Loved December Edition Please do pop by and link in a post about a book you loved. Maybe this one? Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anna, thanks for linking this in. We are now getting a lovely collection of book links. I have just signed up to follow you. A follow back to Carole's Chatter would be wonderful – or are you already following? Cheers

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  3. AWESOME BLOG....NEW FOLLOWER.

    Thanks for this post....sounds like an interesting book.

    Stopping by from Carole's December Books I Loved. I am in that list as #4.

    Elizabeth
    Silver's Reviews
    My Blog

    ReplyDelete

Comments are much appreciated and I always read them with a smile on my face! :) While I appreciate the thought, this an award-free blog as well. I just don't have the time to keep up with it. Thank you for my smiles and please share your thoughts! Also, sorry for the Captcha, but I've been getting a lot of spam lately!