I have been hearing about Rainbow Rowell for a long time. Her books are everywhere and I have heard nothing but rave reviews of Fangirl and Eleanor & Park, so at the beginning of the school year I finally picked up a copy of E&P (I’m going to abbreviate because for some reason it takes me about five tries to spell Eleanor). When I took it to the register at Bookman’s the girl behind the counter immediately started fangirling and telling me how much she loved this book. A few weeks later I saw one of my 8th graders reading it and when I asked her what she thought she told me that she loved it and that I should read it next. So several months later I finally read it.
I liked it. I liked it a lot but it didn’t captivate me the way Memoirs of a Geisha or Furiously Happy did. I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover but when I look at Rainbow Rowell’s most popular books all I see are pastels and cute sketches of high school students that look like they were drawn with Crayola colored pencils. So what I expected to find in the plot was something similar to cotton candy: a frothy and sweet teenage love story. Therefor I was shocked when I found an F-bomb dropped on the very first page, and scattered pretty regularly throughout the rest of the book.
I was actually a little happy to be taken by surprise like this and I can definitely see why Rowell is so popular. She takes a genre that I expected to be like cotton candy and made it a lot more gritty and realistic. It covers several important issues that face teenagers today and can help young adults gain an understanding of other people’s struggles. Issues like race, bullying, and domestic violence are all displayed in the plot and these are all issues that young adult need to be educated about. The cute love story that blossoms between the nerdy half-Korean Park and the curvy awkward Eleanor is interesting to watch, because there was no love at first sight. They actually didn’t like each other at all but they quickly learn that if you are true to yourself others can learn to love you for it.
I found it to be a very easy read which is probably why I wasn’t as dedicated to it as I was to other books, but I did enjoy the story and it continually surprised me. I was very happy to find a plot that was far from predictable. I think that as long as you aren’t offended by an excessive use of the F-word, you may enjoy this book. I think that high school students would love this book and would learn some valuable lessons from it. I will definitely read more from Rainbow Rowell.
Rowell, Rainbow. Eleanor & Park. New York: St. Martin’s, 2013. Print.