A couple of weeks ago, I was checking out twitter, and I couldn’t help but notice how it was blowing up with another big book controversy and as per usual, I was quickly drawn into the conversation. This time the controversy involved the book Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. I hadn’t read the book before nor had I read anything by the author but yet I still felt quick to defend. Why? Because when a book is challenged or threatened in any manner (especially in a manner that is entirely unreasonable) I feel the need to defend it. Books are that important to me. That is also the reason I knew I had to check out this story, and see exactly what the “big deal” was, and to see why so many people were apparently offended by it.
To say that Eleanor & Park has left me with feelings would be an understatement honestly. This book is so full of so many wonderful things. It really is one of those stories in the young adult world that is completely authentic with its portrayal of young teenagers. Eleanor and Park both felt so real to me. And I felt like I was falling in love with them as they were falling in love with each other. They were so different and yet they were so connected on a level that was inexplicably beautiful and heartfelt. I LOVED READING ABOUT IT.
I think one of the reasons that I loved reading about Eleanor and Park’s relationship is because it avoided most of the usual “falling in love” clichés that you sometimes come across in a young adult book. There were swoony moments but they were not necessarily directly in your face. Often times they were more simplistic and were things that sometimes people I think take for granted. Actions were subtly written in so that when I came across them I had to take a moment to pause and to really enjoy them. I was full of happy sighs, and smiles, and just moments of pure reading bliss when I was reading this book. Even during their moments of tension, I was still enjoying reading about Eleanor and Park finding their way to each other.
I really liked how Eleanor & Park is not just a teenage love story. There are also other important issues sprinkled into the mix as well. Issues which are completely relatable to teenagers and non-teenagers alike. One thing that I really connected with personally was the things that Eleanor dealt with not only as the “new girl” but also as the “weird girl”. I never was the new girl in my school because I was in the same school district all of my life but I was most definitely seen as the weird girl at times. Be it because of what I wore, what I could afford to wear due to my family’s tight budget, who I chose to hang out with, or what I chose to enjoy doing I never fit in with the popular kids. Honestly, it was better that way because the people that I did hang out with I knew liked me for me. Also, I was horrible in gym class (like Eleanor) because I lack any coordination what-so-ever and because I was always a bigger girl. I wasn’t necessarily heavy but I’m naturally big boned which made athletics difficult for me. Thus, gym class was never a fun experience for me. In fact, usually it was a living hell and I hated it with a passion.
Being able to relate to a character is huge for me. I love when it happens and for me, it makes reading a book that much enjoyable. Yes, I love when I read a book and I fall for the characters but, when you are able to completely relate to them, it adds another dimension to the book. Or at least it does for me. THIS is one of the reasons why books are so important. Books have the ability to open eyes and hearts in a way that is sometimes almost unexplainable. There is so much truth in books especially for individuals who are trying to find themselves. Especially when a book is completely realistic and does not hide the truths of what it is like to be a teenager growing up in modern society. Books like this are not “obscene” or “foul” or anything like that. They are IMPORTANT.
Books like Eleanor & Park should not be taken away but instead they should be highly valued. These books are life preservers for some people. They can make them realize that they are not alone or wrong in the way that they are feeling. They can help them find solutions or give them the courage to talk to someone about their problems. Banning books is WRONG, and it makes my blood boil just thinking about it or attempting to type about it. Truthfully, I cannot thank Rainbow Rowell enough for this story. I’m so glad I read it, and I’m so glad I now understand the hype … for all the right reasons.
Disclosure: Purchased for my Nook
Other reviews of Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell:
The Secret Life of a Bookworm: “Eleanor & Park was such a beautifully written novel.”
Into the Hall of Books: “This book is PERFECT. ”