Eleanor & Park
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Summary (from the publisher): Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.
Eleanor... Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough...Eleanor.
Park... He knows she'll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises...Park.
Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.
Marcie's Review: When I went to the library last week, the book display in the lobby was centered around banned books, in celebration of Banned Book Week. I looked through the selection, thinking that I would love to read a book that had been banned, and I picked up this one since it was already on my to-read list. A parent organization at a high school district in Minnesota complained about this book, and after reading it, I really couldn't tell you why. Yes, there is some bad language that I wouldn't want young and impressionable kids to read. Yes, there is a bit of sex - one character talks about getting to second base, and there is a scene where the astute reader could surmise that possibly the couple had been intimate (nothing is described). Yes, there is a reference to teenagers hanging out in a garage smoking pot. So, I would agree that parents or schools should make sure children are mature enough to handle this book - ie, don't let a 4th grader read it. But is this book appropriate for high school students? I say YES! (We'll see if my answer would change when I have a high school reader....)
I loved this story about a weird girl and a geeky boy falling in love with each other. Rainbow Rowell really gets inside the kids' heads and makes you feel their pain and joy. I think the lessons this book could impart, about bullying and abuse and friendship, are much more important than the complaints made by that MN school district.
Becky's Review: At first I wasn't too keen on Eleanor. She was closed off, quirky, and defensive. Park seemed a little odd too. But then we learn more about each of the characters and I really enjoyed reading about how Eleanor and Park started talking, dating, and falling in love. Park and his family were so good for Eleanor and were what she needed. From the beginning we know that Eleanor's life has been tough and that her home life environment is very hard but the author doesn't tell us all the details and first and that started to drive me a little nuts because I needed to know what had happened. Luckily this book is very face paced and easy to read so you find out what happens pretty quickly.
There is a fair amount of swearing, most specifically the f-word. The first chapter has that word over and over again as if the author needed to make the reader aware that she can be a badass and that high school students do nothing but swear. In my opinion, it was completely unnecessary. The uses of swear words later in the book were few and far between and seemed to fit the characters.
Marcie's Rating: 4.5 stars
Becky's Rating: 4 stars