Author: Rainbow Rowell
"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.
Published February 26th 2013.
I think I fell in love with the cover at first glance. The truth is, you don't often see covers this simple and straightforward on the shelves. But, for Eleanor & Park, this cover encapsulates the essence of the novel perfectly-- just the right clean and sweet tone for a story about the blossoming of young love.
This is the story of Eleanor -- red-haired, awkward, big-boned and with certain family scandals which keep her in fearful rebellion.
This is also the story of Park -- black-haired, aloof, lithe and the son of a perfect American family.
However, beyond their seemingly stereotypical images, they are different -- not just from each other, but also from the rest of the world.
Park is a half-Korean and half-American sixteen year old kid-- lover of punk music, taekwondo-practicing and a comics extraordinaire. And he loves with a heart-wrenching kind of impulsiveness and surety. When Park meets Eleanor, the new girl on the bus, their foray into young love is slow and raw, glazed over by the innocence that comes with their era-- the 1980s.
Eleanor, on the other hand, is an outright misfit.
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.”
She lives and breathes and pulses with a vibrancy that inspires a million quote-worthy moments. As they grow from love to love, my heart was warning me that nothing good can ever come out of it (after all, Romeo and Juliet was the best testament to the tragedies of young love).
But something beautiful did come out of it. For after Eleanor meets Park, there can never be two people who will ever love each other in the same way again. And Rainbow Rowell's gorgeous purple prose finally made me cry in the end (something that was pretty much inevitable from the very beginning),
“Nothing before you counts," he said. "And I can't even imagine an after."
She shook her head. "Don't."
"Don't talk about after."
"I just meant that... I want to be the last person who ever kisses you, too.... That sounds bad, like a death threat or something. What I'm trying to say is, you're it. This is it for me.”
In essence, this was both the most heart-wrenching and the most heart-warming book I've ever read in my entire life. It made my heart swell with love and then carved out a tiny piece from it. Because of that, there will always be a part of me which can never forget the aching emptiness after reading this book and the memory of the sweetest, truest and most glorious first love which fulfils, hurts and ultimately, heals.
Source: From St. Martin's Press for review purposes