Happy New Year! I hope you all had a fantastic New Year’s Eve and so on and so forth holidays holidays holidays.
…I’m holidayed (don’t give me that look, I’m a pioneer of new words) out, can you tell?
Alright so Eleanor and Park. There was a whole lot of hoopla about this one, so I figured I should read it. Don’t get me wrong, I really liked it. In fact, it’s probably in my top twenty of the year. I didn’t think it deserved as much praise as it got, but I did enjoy it.
Park is pretty much the ultimate boyfriend, let me tell you. He is so patient and loving, he tries to be understanding to Eleanor and her circumstances. He struggles a bit with that last one, but to be fair Eleanor doesn’t share everything with him.
Eleanor is a transfer student moving back in with her mom after moving away for a while due to her mom’s new husband. She moves back in a has to acclimatize to a new school, new people, and a hick town. Park is the only Asian kid in his school, and half-Asian at that. He’s not an outsider, but he’s not an insider either. He fits in because he grew up in the town, his dad’s family had been there for several generations. Park protects Eleanor from the class bullies the first few days, and all of the days to follow. Soon the become friends, and then more than friends, and then lovers. Park starts by sharing music with Eleanor, and let me tell you she is all over that cassette player.
“I just want to break that song into pieces and love them all to death.”
So their relationship is based on a mutual love of music and each other.
When Eleanor starts getting dirty messages written on her text books, she automatically assumes it is the mean girl who bugged her during her first couple days. However, all is not as it seems. I’m not going to ruin it for you because it’s a really great ending. But Park is just the greatest, most loving, self-sacrificing boyfriend that still has flaws and isn’t just a fantasy. He is willing to give up everything for Eleanor, and I can’t even tell you why because I don’t want to spoil it.
Let’s move on to Eleanor’s family. She has some adorable siblings, with some big problems. They all stay in one room, which is a struggle when you’re a sixteen year old girl living with a preteen, a five-year old who pees in his bed, and a baby. Eleanor has to be the rock for her siblings, as her mom isn’t exactly a candidate for mother of the year. Eleanor’s step-dad and her mom fight consistently, leaving Eleanor’s mom with bruises and Eleanor’s siblings in terror. Similar to Perks of Being a Wallflower, it’s just too real. I can’t stand the thought of a bunch of kids under the age of seventeen huddling together in fear while their mom is beaten and their step-dad rages at the smallest inconvenience. I don’t like the thought that there are kids out there living that life, it’s just really really heart breaking.
Finally, the way Rowell describes her characters physically is pretty interesting. Park’s Korean-ness is emphasized constantly, and Eleanor is consistently described as fat. Fat with a capital F, with wild red hair. Even Park accepts that she’s not nice looking…
“Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.”
Even him saying she doesn’t look nice comes off as super sweet and fantastic. Ugh. Irresistibly sweet fictional guys that are totally made up are just the worst/best. The list of fictional guys that I would very much like to meet if they existed continues to grow. That being said, so does the list of fictional girls. I’ve read a lot of good books this year. Anyway, I thought it was interesting that their physical appearances were so heavily stressed.
I’m going to conclude with a couple of my favourite quotes from the book because there are some great one-liners.
“Holding Eleanor’s hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like holding something complete, and completely alive.”
“I want everyone to meet you. You’re my favorite person of all time.”
“He made her feel like more than the sum of her parts.”
“I don’t like you, Park. Sometimes I think I live for you”
It’s just a great story. And you all should read it. The end.
My talent for conclusions just keeps growing.