Wednesday, April 24, 2013

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Title: Eleanor & Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Narrator:  Rebecca Lowman & Sunil Malhotra
Series: n/a
Publisher: Listening Library
Publication Date: February 26, 2013
Source: purchased
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

"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 sixteen."
"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, ELEANOR AND PARK 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.

So, everyone and their mama has loved this book.  And friends kept telling me that I had to read it, that it was the quintessential young adult contemporary.  I'll give you that it was a pretty great story, but I don't think it was the quintessential anything.  It was just a story about a boy and a girl from different backgrounds, trying to make their love work in a world that seemed set against it.

From all the quotes I've seen from this novel and all the gushing around the internets, I expected this to be a sweeping romance that would blow all others away.  So, in my mind, I'm comparing it to that of Augustus Waters and Hazel Grace in The Fault in Our Stars.  (Fair or not, I can't help it...that book was bursting with the feels and I couldn't stop thinking about it for days.)  Eleanor & Park was cute and witty, but the romance just didn't envelop me the way I had been hoping it would.

Which isn't to say it was off-putting or anything.  It was terribly realistic and reminiscent of the trials of first love:  the awkward interactions in the beginning, that first electric touch, the [sometimes clumsy] first kiss, that sense of urgency.  That was all there and it felt genuine.  What was blossoming between these two characters felt right, even as they learned each other's hope and fears and secrets.  But as they were discovering just how much they meant to each other, I felt like they should have meant more to me...and they didn't.  I just never quite connected with either Eleanor or Park.  Maybe it was the fact that one hid from conflict while the other was more likely to provoke it.  These two were virtually polar opposites, and somehow they found a way to escape into each other.  I get it.  I almost buy it.  But I still don't feel it.

I chose to listen to the audio of E & P based on a friend's recommendation, and though I don't believe I've heard either of these narrators before, I can honestly say they did a bang up job.  Each portrayed the emotion and rawness of the characters with ease, and their voices matched what I would have picked for the snarky Eleanor and the more mild-mannered Park.  The dialogue flowed seamlessly and made for a pretty realistic portrayal.  I'd definitely recommend the audio myself, as it enhanced my overall enjoyment of the novel greatly.

From starting a new school and making friends, to bullying, to home life (good and bad), to young love, Eleanor & Park covered nearly every facet of life at that tender age.  It's poignant and heart-breaking but also hopeful.  It was a powerful story, one that transcends the decade in which it was set, and although I didn't fall in love with the story, I did enjoy it immensely.  The writing was sharp and clever, and I am definitely looking forward to reading more from this author.

Rating:   photo 4-1.png

About the author:

Rainbow Rowell is the author of ATTACHMENTS. She has two novels coming out in 2013 -- ELEANOR & PARK in February and FANGIRL in the fall.

Rainbow lives with her husband and two sons in Omaha, Nebraska. Right at this moment, she is probably arguing with someone about something that doesn't really matter in the big scheme of things -- or trying to figure out how Sherlock faked his death.

Find Rainbow:

Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Tumblr


  1. Okay Jen, I'm reading this soon so I'm not reading this review just yet--but 4 stars is a good sign! Tonya loved this, so I'm looking forward to diving in, too. :)

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

    1. It's okay, Wendy...I didn't spoil anything. This was mostly just a feelings review. :)

  2. Ok, so you didn't LOVE it like I did... but I'm happy to hear you really enjoyed it! And I'm so glad you liked the audio. I thought the narrators were perfect and made the story so much more real. :)

    1. The narrators were great...they're what made the book better than just good. :)

  3. I think the narrators did such a great job. The voice of Park was just perfect. Great review.

  4. I haven't gotten around to this one yet, but it sounds good. I can appreciate how too much build up can mess with expectation. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I'd still recommend it if contemporary novels are you're thing. But maybe go into it with lower expectations so you'll be pleasantly surprised. :)

  5. I'm like you! I have been expecting this book to be like tFiOS and I keep imagining Hazel and Augustus, no matter what. I think I'll be like you and enjoy the book...but not actually FEEL anything, which is disappointing. It sounds good though and the narrators amazing. Great review, Jen!

    1. Hope you'll still give it a try because I am in the minority on this one. Though the fact that you agree about the expectations makes me feel a little better.

  6. Great review! It's neat to read a slightly more skeptical review. I'm glad you still enjoyed it though. I'll probably be picking it up soon. :)

  7. I've heard the audio is good on this one. I'm interested for sure. It's in my TBR. Thanks for the review Jen!

    1. The audio is great! If you enjoy audiobooks, I'd definitely recommend going that route.


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