The first thing you need to know about this book is the author’s first name is Rainbow, which I just can’t seem to wrap my head around. Do people call her Rain? Does she turn around when a child shouts ‘Rainbow!’ excitedly after seeing an actual rainbow? Did her parents know what they were doing when they named her? Obviously, I’m a little obsessed about her name, but I won’t bring it up again during this review. I swear.
The second thing you need to know is this book is fabulous and you should read it.
TWO MISFITS. ONE EXTRAORDINARY LOVE. It’s 1986 and two star-crossed teens are 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. A cross between the iconic ’80s movie Sixteen Candles and the classic coming-of-age novel Looking for Alaska, Eleanor & Park is a brilliantly written young adult novel.
I had no idea what to expect from this book. It sounded cute and I love the ’80s, so I decided to go with it. Told from Eleanor’s and Park’s point of views, this story takes shape in a way I was not expecting. I didn’t expect Eleanor to be quirky, with a backstory that would make anyone want to hug her. (Even though she’d absolutely hate that, oh my god, don’t even mention hugging to her, unless you’re Park, because she doesn’t do that.) I didn’t expect Park to be so incredibly cute, but in that shy, nerdy way and then get sudden PUNK from him.
By the way, I would have TOTALLY fallen for Park. Of course, I probably would’ve been a weird cross between Valley Girl and Punk (Punk Valley Girl is a thing, right?) because I like both. I’m allowed to like both. It’s America. Anyway, tangent. I would’ve fallen for Park, but I don’t think he would’ve gone for me, which is horribly disappointing because I can see us having epic X-Men discussions and arguing over music and just being awkwardly adorable together.
So, back on point, it was a great book. Not just the characters, but the writing was great. I liked how Rainbow slowly revealed their backstories and characterizations throughout. I kind of guessed what the big climax would be, but not that it would end the way it did. (And it does end abruptly. Mainly because I just didn’t want it to end.)
Also, these two kids are so awkward together. Like, they pretty much just stumble into a relationship and have no idea how to talk to each other at first. Let me put it in context. Junior high. If you had a relationship in junior high, it was probably with someone you were crushing on, but it wasn’t really a relationship. Not really. Because you’re like 13 and what do you talk about? Homework? What movies are coming out? It’s not really that deep and you have no idea what to do or how to act and holy crap, am I supposed to hold his hand? Why is it so sweaty? Oh, wow, is he going to be my first kiss? What do I do with my tongue? How much do I tilt my head? etc. It’s AWKWARD, okay? I’m not saying people can’t have long and lasting relationships with someone (or someones, hey, I don’t judge) they met in junior high, just that all of those relationships tend to start out awkwardly because neither one of you know what you’re doing. That’s pretty much how it is with Eleanor and Park and all I could think about when reading these incredibly awkward scenes was how much they would probably love Tumblr.
I’m not kidding. These two would be on Tumblr in a heartbeat. Eleanor’s blog would be eclectic, probably with a heavy dose of music and text posts, and Park would be music, comics and art. He’d probably just straddle the fence between a hipster and fandom blog. The art thing, though, because of this one quote that I really liked, when he’s talking about Eleanor.
She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice, it was supposed to make you feel something.
I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Park takes a photography class in college and then just becomes this really well-known music photographer and maybe works for Rolling Stone now.
And I have a feeling Eleanor would be straight up fandom because she’s got an obsessive side to her. I wrote down another quote from her POV of when she’s talking about Park that I really liked.
Don’t bite his face, Eleanor told herself. It’s disturbing and needy and never happens on situation comedies or movies that end with big kisses.
All I could think about after that was ‘She’s one of us!’ Hah.
Besides how it just ended right when I didn’t want it to end, as is genuinely the case with YA books, I really enjoyed this one. And if you can’t tell from this review, I kind of went a little crazy while reading it because I just dug the characters. I would’ve been friends with them. I also kept forgetting this book was set in 1986 until there was a pop culture reference or I’d wonder why they didn’t just call someone’s cell phone because their conversations and social interactions didn’t seem that different than my high school experience. Hard to imagine that 1986 was 27 years ago when it can feel like it was just yesterday after reading this book.
Eleanor & Park is out now, so go read it. I recommend it. John Green also recommends it (and also writes a much better review).