Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell.
He'd stopped trying to bring her back.
She only came back when she felt like it, in dreams and lies and broken-down deja vu.
I reviewed Rainbow Rowell's first novel, Attachments, back in July 2011, and it was fantastic. It's not surprising, then, that her second novel, Eleanor & Park, is just as good, if not better.
Park, on the other hand, lives with his parents and brother in a nice, middle-class household. He's never wanted for anything, except maybe for his dad to let him try for his license on an automatic (not manual) car, and overall he's had an sheltered suburban life.
When Park shows Eleanor a kindness by letting her sit next to him on the school bus, a friendship is born, and it eventually transpires into something more.
The (rather sparse) official synopsis:
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.
As you can probably tell from this blog, I'm a huge fan of YA (Young Adult) books, especially ones involving love stories. Eleanor & Park is interesting because it's not really a YA book; it doesn't pander towards younger audiences, and overall Rainbow Rowell is an adult fiction author, in my opinion. Yet the story drew me in just as fast as any YA book I've ever read, if not faster.
Eleanor and Park both tell the story from first person point-of-view, and each chapter alternates whose views we get to read; this lets us into their heads, and I loved how they were often even thinking the same thing or variations of it. Eleanor gradually becomes closer and closer with Park and tells him about her family, though she neglects some of the really awful parts at first - like that she doesn't have a toothbrush until she steals one from her (biological) father's fiancee, and she sometimes doesn't have shampoo either. Neither of them have ever really been in a relationship before, for the most part, and they find themselves falling hard and fast for each other.
When I was about midway through the book, I reread the first page again (part of which is in italics above) and was a little worried - it foreshadowed Eleanor going away somewhere - but the ending of the book does not disappoint; it's a little ambiguous, which is why I'm docking a half-star (I'm a mean reviewer sometimes!), but it was also satisfying.
I would love to see a sequel to Eleanor & Park, too, as I'm curious to see what will happen to these characters next.
Eleanor & Park will be in stores on February 26th. 4.5 stars out of 5.
*Disclosure: I received a copy of this novel to review. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.