Book Review: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
Eleanor, a world-weary redhead with emotional baggage, and Park, a well-adjusted kid from a good family, are definitely not made for each other…but that doesn’t stop them from falling in intense like.
Ah, young love!
Rainbow Rowell is great at writing the almost obsessive feelings lovers in love can develop for one another.
Rowell also does a great job of showing Eleanor’s bleak life without getting maudlin.
Eleanor and Park are both teens, so I guess this would qualify as a young adult (YA) novel with some adult themes. Think Forever by Judy Blume (a comparison one of the characters even makes).
I’m, ahem, just a touch removed from the YA demographic. When reading YA novels, therefore, I must keep in mind a phenomenon I call The Breakfast Club paradox. I’ll explain.
When I first watched The Breakfast Club, I was a sulking teen. The movie hit me hard. These teens were so relatable. They were tough and vulnerable and beautiful and quirky and honest in a way I never thought I’d have the guts to be.
Here comes the paradox. Many years later, I watched the movie again as a baby-having, full-time job working adult. Instead of brave comrades, these kids suddenly seemed whiny and entitled.
My life experience put heavy bias on how I watched The Breakfast Club.
And there’s the connection to Eleanor and Park. My thoughts as a grown-up are probably different than those of the target audience.
For me, it’s all about the wonder and nostalgia of 80s music and first love (not that those two things happened in the same decade for me, but I digress). It’s remembering the butterflies of holding hands, the torture of not quite fitting in at school, and the few good parents who, even if we don’t realize it then, are clumsily trying their hardest to gently steer these burgeoning adults along the right path.