Eleanor and Park
by Rainbow Rowell
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. (Description from Goodreads.com)
I'm not sure if it's because I read FANGIRL first, or if I just connected more to the main character in that novel, or if it's because I just didn't "live" through the 80s, having been too young to really feel most of the culture of that time, but I didn't have the same overwhelmingly overawed reaction to this book that a lot of people did.
I enjoyed it. Rowell is a great writer. I really like how well she can craft a fully fledged character that feels as if I could meet him or her on the street. I like that each one of her books is different...they take place in different settings and times, and yet, they have a similar feel to them. I know that Rowell wrote them.
While I didn't love the setting of this book, I found it very believable. This book really felt like it was set in and embraced the 80s. As I mentioned, I was just a peanut in the 80s so I don't have the same nostalgic connection to it that some older readers might, but I can remember the early 90s pretty well and some things felt eerily similar.
I think what I liked the most about this book, though, was Park. Eleanor was a fun and interesting character, but I LOVED Park...and I loved the way that Rowell described him. Here you really felt not only that Eleanor liked Park for his personality, but also that she really and truly wanted him. Her descriptions of Park's skin as melted honey were truly evocative. It wasn't just the way that Eleanor viewed him, though, either...Park was a fascinating character in his own right - flawed as any teenage boy would be, but also strong and brave and true. The book almost broke my heart on Park's behalf, but thankfully Rowell left things in a way that left me satisfied at the end.
As I said, not my favorite Rowell title, but well worth reading anyway.
Full Disclosure: Audiobook borrowed from my Library