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Eleanor & Park Hardcover – February 26, 2013

4.5 out of 5 stars 3,511 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (February 26, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250012570
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250064875
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1.1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3,511 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,585 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Bethany Gronberg on May 7, 2012
Format: Paperback
Set in 1986, Eleanor & Park is funny and sad, sarcastic and sincere, and above all geeky. The title characters are both 16-year-old misfits in their working-class Omaha neighborhood. Park is half-Korean in a mostly-white part of town, and is into alternative music and comic books, unlike his brother and dad who are into sports. Eleanor is big (she thinks of herself as fat) and awkward and poor, the oldest of five kids with a painfully difficult home life, and defiantly flaunts her crazy red hair and weird clothes.

They find themselves sitting together on the school bus every day. Over time they're reluctantly drawn together by sharing Park's X-Men and Watchmen comic books. Despite their friends' derision and their families' dismay and disapproval, they fall in love over mix tapes featuring The Cure and the Smiths. A larger, more dangerous threat looms over one of them, skillfully woven throughout the story and coming to a climax in a way that will have you reading faster and faster to find out what happens.

This story of first love---how it's almost always intense and heart-breakingly doomed, how you feel desperate and hopeless and wildly hopeful all at the same time---will take you right back to those thrilling stomachache-y days when you felt like you would suffocate under the weight of the love and lust you felt, and just holding your beloved's hand was enough to make you walk on air for weeks.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I doubt that I fall into the 'target market' for this book. I'm not even sure what a young adult is. Should I recommend this book for my 14 year old grandson? But then I don't think any of these labels or definitions matter at all when the book under question is a really well-written book as is "Eleanor and Park" (EP). I was attracted to it because I had read many complimentary reviews and found it on a number of lists of 2013 best books. And I was in the mood for something different. And EP is very different from my normal crime fiction/spy novel selections, a nice break. Park is sitting on the school bus one morning as usual, when he looks up during one of the stops and spots an obviously new student , lost and frozen in place, looking for a "safe" seat to claim. Her style is all her own right up to the mass of tangled bright red locks crowning her dome (see the cover). Park, anxious to break the tension created by a yelling bus driver ("sit down!"), makes room for her, utters the standard expletive, and gets results.....she sits. It's not a Bogart-Bergman moment. But slowly and tenderly a relationship develops, and it becomes evident that this author knows how to pace her story. But Ms. Rowell's skills go far beyond. She may not know her audience, but she knows her characters, and not just her main ones, but high schooler's parents, siblings and teachers as well. The dialog rings true and spot on. Here are two people who first appear as suited for each other as oil and water, but gradually mesh together in perfect sync. They have their ups and downs, and they face problems from parents and other students, but they are honest and have few pretentions - and they are in love. And their romance works and the story does as well, all the way till the very end. So I recommend this highly - for "young adults" of all ages.
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Format: Kindle Edition
When I received the review request from St. Martin's Press, as I always do, I popped over to Goodreads and Amazon to read the synopsis and take a closer look at the author. Had I gone by the blurb on Goodreads (the one shown above), I may have passed this book up. It was what I saw on Amazon that had me anxious to read Eleanor & Park:

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.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I picked this book up for some light reading on a day home sick from work. I saw the high reviews and thought, not my typical read and I certainly am not the target demographic but, I'll give it a whirl.

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.
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