From the Vault

From the Vault – Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

It’s another From the Vault entry! A review of a previously-read book! This one I’d reviewed once already, some I have not.

I listened to an audiobook version of Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell over the summer. I fell in love immediately. An unexpected pleasure was that there were two very good narrators, a female for Eleanor’s sections and a male for Park’s. I admit that I really enjoyed this because sometimes I’m a speedy reader, especially if I’m reading solely for enjoyment, and I am no stranger to missed visual cues, so they saved me that trouble.

Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.
Eleanor… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough…Eleanor.Park… He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises…Park.Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

(Goodreads)

The story is set in 1986, and Eleanor is the new girl at school. Park lets her sit with him on the bus that first day, and over time they develop a relationship that is unlike anything either of them have ever known. It starts by them sharing the bus seat. Then Park realizes Eleanor is reading his comics. Then they start to share music, and things continue to build from there. Eleanor is scared to let Park know just how bad things are at home, but she comes to rely on him, on the memory of him, to get her through the nights filled with the cries of her mother and days filled with bullying at school.
What I loved:
  • Both Eleanor and Park had a unique voice, their own lens with which they viewed the world. This made for interesting moments when the view switched back and forth quickly, to see what they were thinking or how they were feeling, and what was different between the two. This also made it very distinct who was thinking what. I also just absolutely loved them both!
  • Their wit!
  • The story felt so genuine, I was sucked in immediately and it was hard to come back from.
  • The supporting characters felt just as real as Eleanor and Park did.
  • Eleanor’s reference to Dicey Tillerman (Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt).
  • THE FEELS! This was quite an emotional book for me to listen to.
What I didn’t like:
  • I can’t think of anything that I didn’t really like. There were elements of the story that I wish weren’t a part of this world in general, but they are, and they were presented really well.
Other:
  • While the language didn’t bother me, a family member is a middle school librarian, so I keep that in mind when reading YA. Probably not acceptable for a middle-school library, in case you were wondering.
  • I think that someone who was a teenager in this time would probably like the references to the music, but I have to admit that I’m a failure in terms of pop-culture, so I had to take them at the value presented in the book.
Should you read this? Yes, but you need a certain amount of “emotional bandwidth” (as S. would say) available.
I give this book 5 stars! Additionally, it’s a book I’d recommend reading for a study in how an author can give each character a unique voice.
 **This review originally appeared on my first blog, here.
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