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Eleanor & Park Kindle Edition
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"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Learn more
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Amazon does a very poor job of categorizing by children's reading levels or by what are age appropriate books for kids
Bono met his wife in high school, Park says.
So did Jerry Lee Lewis, Eleanor answers.
I'm not kidding, he says.
You should be, she says, we're 16.
What about Romeo and Juliet?
Shallow, confused, then dead.
I love you, Park says.
Wherefore art thou, Eleanor answers.
I'm not kidding, he says.
You should be.
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.
It was the banter between these two that I found intriguing. Plus, I am a product of the eighties...if I thought I could get away with it, I would probably still where my hair in some ridiculous angular cut. Okay, not really but you will still find me lovingly listening to "new wave" music while I clean my house. Anyway, what I'm saying is the book seamed like something I would like.
I was wrong.
This book is something that I loved.
When I read on my Kindle, I highlight all the bits I want to remember for when I write my review. There are usually a handful. If you peak at my Eleanor & Park file there is yellow all over the place. There is so much good stuff here, it has it all.
Eleanor has a rough life and that is putting it mildly. After a year of couch surfing she's brought back home to live with her mother, her four younger siblings and her creeper stepfather. She has to share a room with all her brothers and sisters, there is no door on the bathroom, almost all of her possessions were thrown out while she was gone and her mother can't even remember to buy Eleanor her own toothbrush. To say she is an awkward outcast with fluffy red hair and a ridiculous wardrobe would be an understatement.
Park is the only (half) Asian kid in the area. He's not sure where he fits in and no one else really seems to know either. He's not a pariah at school but he is somewhat on the outskirts of the 'in crowd' and is careful to not be completely pushed to the outer limits.
This unlikely pair is forced to sit together on the bus but don't talk or acknowledge each other for weeks. Yet a relationship, a bond, forms between them that is undeniable and utterly heart oozing sweet. When they first interact and become more than two strangers simultaneously riding a bus, watch out because all the warm fuzzies will be spreading from your ears to your toes. The first hand holding is to die for cute.
"Holding Eleanor's hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like holding something complete and completely alive."
"If you've ever wondered what that feels like, it's a lot like melting - but more violent."
As the relationship develops, so do the insecurities that Eleanor and Park both harbor and so do the secrets of Eleanor's home life and struggle with girls at school. It is the love that these two feel for each other that carry them through each day and living without each other becomes something of an impossibility.
The exchanges between these two is nothing less than adorable and their inner monologues are even better.
"She sat completely still because she didn't have any other option. She tried to remember what kind of animals paralyzed their prey before they ate them... Maybe Park had paralyzed her with his ninja magic, his Vulcan handhold, and now he was going to eat her. That would be awesome."
This started out as such a quirky and fun story, I often found myself giggling aloud. As the story became more intimate and serious, it began to tug at my heart and with one absolute 'mom moment', I was reduced to tears. Not something I do regularly with books.
I won't lie and tell you this a super feel good HEA type of book. It has many super feel good moments but the crux of the story is more profound and questions the power of love - what it makes you do - and what you are willing to give up to hold on to it.
Now, I have recently berated a book for having an untidy ending. Eleanor & Park's ending leaves a lot to the imagination as well. But, I think this ending works and I'll explain why.
First, this is a standalone book. I have not invested hours upon hours developing deep emotions for the story, nor have I spent years waiting and wondering what is going to happen next and how it is going to end. Second, these are teens experiencing their first love, the kind of love that your heart hurts when you are away from the person for an hour. The type of love that stays with you in your heart forever, even if the relationship itself doesn't last. When you're young you think everything will last forever and always be as perfect as it is now. It's not reality. Life gets in the way, growth gets in the way. In my head, this ending was reminiscent of that sort of love and it was quite fitting. Others may not agree.
I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a first love, somewhat coming of age type story or someone like me who loves the nostalgic feelings that can't help but surface when reading about young love in the age of your own teen years.
I wasn't expecting what I received from reading this book. How to explain what I did get...and the following isn't intended to be melodramatic.
I was sucker punched, emotionally invested (hugely), horrified, awed, saddened, at times uplifted, grateful for some aspects of human nature and then human nature made me horrified by morally repugnant events. I guess what I'm trying to communicate without being overly sappy (and failing) how much this book made me feel. Highs and lows. It was demoralizing and insightful at the same time. There are so many simple moments of raw emotion on each opposite end of the spectrum and they transition so rapidly, you find yourself going, whoah how'd we get here when we were literally just over there? But in a good way.
It is an emotional roller coaster, but one of simplicity. The writing is fairly clean and well presented. The characters are complex in their simplicity and they invoked strong reactions in me. I wanted to get to the next sentence, paragraph, and page as quickly as possible to find out more about them. I was cheering and jeering alternately for almost each primary figure and several secondary ones.
The book starts a little slow and then when you're not looking or expecting it, your stomach drops out on you, just like riding a roller coaster. All of a sudden your roped into this complex scenario which almost everyone who's been in high school has experienced to a lesser or greater degree. (I mean the broad picture of high school and interactions within that framework not necessarily what specific circumstances that occur with the female lead. I don't want to elaborate so as not to give away the story.)
The writer sets her hook in you without you knowing it, and slowly begins to reel you in and then wham - you're in the boat and being filleted thinking how did that happen so quick? I couldn't put this down (but again starts a wee bit slowly) and tore through it.
The author alternates viewpoints without rehashing the same events to death and keeps a very good rhythm and flow. She doesn't answer all the questions for you or wrap everything in a pretty package for you. It's gritty and raw enough to sink your teeth into and yet still leaves room for you to form your own opinion about where the story takes you and how it ends.
It is not a warm fuzzy happy book in most ways but there is redemption and hope in the bleakness that does make it worthy and not a tragedy entirely. I feel as though I'm not doing the story justice with this review but I don't know how else to word this tale. It's sad and inspiring with sarcasm and loathing and real life undiluted through teenagers eyes who are dealing with feelings and experiences that is beyond their years that they shouldn't have to deal with but are none the less. And they do so while experiencing and exploring normal facets of growing up. I guess that's the summation. It blends what is normal and right with what isn't and it doesn't sugar coat the journey while doing so.
I hope you read it. It was worth it and then some. Sorry for the long review but for such a short read it has so much depth that it's difficult to write about the reading experience of it (particularly without spoilers) and convey all its beauty and sadness.
P.S. after posting my review I noticed most of the other reviews were by people who were given copies to read for reviews. I paid for this book and felt it mandatory to say I bought this. There's nothing wrong with that system but sometimes I wonder about those reviews. Are they truthful. Well for this book, I agree conclusively that the reviews were merited in my opinion.
If I could've I would've given 4.5 stars. Enjoy.
EDIT on 7 July 14: I recently re-read this book again due to how wonderful and touching I think this story is. (I swear it gets better every time I read it). Previously, my review garnered some questions regarding what my opinion was on what age level was appropriate for reading this book. My initial review didn't touch on this topic - but you can see some of the comments/discussions on that topic if you hit the comments button below my review. I figured I should go back, edit, and add "my opinion" in the up-front review - this is especially relevant as when I re-read the book this time - I did it with that very topic in my mind.
This book has some graphic language in it. To be clear - the areas that deal with the graphic language and subject matter are a part of the story line and have relevance to the story/plot. It is not just thrown in for the heck of it. It reflects how some (not all) persons of the age group in this book talk however, the truly graphic language (and scenarios) I'm specifically speaking of - without trying to give away the story - have a direct nexus to the plot of the book. This is a young adult book with crossovers to adult readers, but some parents may find some of the subject matter or language objectionable for their children depending on their age/maturity.
I can't speak for every child nor parent out there or what they deem appropriate, want, or don't want their child to read. I can say that after re-reading this book with a young adult audience in mind - parents may want to read the book prior to making a decision based on your child's maturity level. I think 15+ is reasonable (again this is a broad based statement and shouldn't be taken as a blanket response). If you allow your child to watch Rated "R" movies than you may not have an issue with the limited explicit language in this book. Make no mistake, this book has very little to do with throwing around explicit content just to throw it around. It plays a role in the story. It is a touching tale that has aspects which deal with a teenager who is exposed to a negative situation, and that is where the language plays into it. But there is more to the plot of this story than just that negative situation. I'd be very sorry if someone completely missed ever reading this superb story based solely on some limited dialogue. There are very innocent and beautiful aspects of the story as well - which are the majority. The language and scenario I am speaking of is a part of the story, but there are many aspects of the story which are perfectly acceptable and, in my opinion, those aspects are not objectionable.
I wouldn't dismiss this story out of hand because of the language. If you are on-the-fence regarding subject matter content, I would suggest reading the book yourself to decide if it is suitable for your child. It is a worthwhile read for an adult as well. You may end up wanting to wait to let your child read it or deem it OK. In either case I think it is safe to say many people who read this book to screen it for their children will find it moving and heart rending.
This book was written with the intent of young adults in mind, and has receive awards/nominations in the young adults genre. I hope this assists a little more with determining the age level.
I have read this authors book called Attachments and found it to be enjoyable, but I can't say the same for this book.
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I did enjoy reading this book though.Read more