It’s true what they say, you never forget your first love. No matter how old we get the joy and pure innocence of our first love remains with us. I saw so many of my blogging friends discussing first loves and realized it was all due to a book by Rainbow Rowell entitled Eleanor & Park. Wishing to re-live my first love and ALL THE FEELINGS I got myself a copy of this read and jumped in.
Taking place over the course of one school year in 1986, Eleanor and Park begins by introducing us to some atypical high school students. Eleanor is a transplant who is new to the area, having lived with family friends for a year after being kicked out by her mother’s abusive husband. Now back with her mother and step-father, she begrudgingly begins attending a new school, surrounded by strangers. Park, on the other hand, is the son of a Vietnam veteran father and Korean mother. He is awkward and quiet and is a huge music fan, carrying his Walkman and headphones with him constantly. Eleanor and Park first meet on the bus, as Eleanor is refused a seat and must take the only other open one, next to Park. They eventually become regular seat-partners on the bus, and Park eventually begins to make Eleanor mix tapes, after letting her borrow his Walkman and noting her interest in music. However, there is much more than music that begins to connect the two, as they try to fight a mutual attraction that begins to pull them together ever so slowly. What will become of these new-found feelings?
There are so many things to say about this book, yet I find myself without any words adequate enough to even describe how I feel. I don’t know how Rowell did it, but her work is a perfect description of first love. It’s a reflection of the feeling that you would do anything and everything to remain with this person for the rest of your life. This book is like a time capsule, a specimen of nostalgia that has been perfectly preserved over the years. From the copious references to 80’s culture, Eleanor and Park is like a slice of the past, with the imagery of mix-tapes and The Watchmen comic books sprinkled throughout. Rowell’s character development is on point, as both Eleanor and Park evolve according to the situations that they are thrust into. They are forced to be more mature than typical high school students, as they both feel the effects of Eleanor’s abusive and negligent household. These excellent characterizations added a depth to the story that definitely filled it out. Coupled with the wonderful nostalgia, these elements made this book irresistible and hard to dislike. If you’re in the mood for an intriguing read with a soft spot for the 80’s, Eleanor and Park is a perfect fit.
4 out of 5 Stars
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
St. Martin’s Press (2013)
eBook: 336 pages