Book Shelved: ‘Eleanor & Park’ by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor & Park

Truth time: I wasn’t paying attention when the hype for this book was flying around. At the time, it just wasn’t my genre. It honestly still isn’t. Even more Truth Time: Unfortunately, I’m not entirely sure that it held up to the aforementioned hype. But then again, that’s probably me, rather than the book itself.

It’s a sweet kind of book about two teenagers who fall in love. It’s a little bittersweet sometimes, but that’s love right? Both Eleanor and Park have their own problems in life, and after one bus ride, they also become each others’ problem. The way they fall for each other is slow and delicate. Just one pothole on the road, just one jarring bus ride, could shatter what they have.

It’s actually quite tricky to say what it’s about, lest I spoil anything. It’s better to just read it yourself and let it play out. The characters aren’t easy people to follow. It took me a little bit of time to get used to them, and really start to understand them. But some of the things they went through (Park and his background, Eleanor and her views on ‘attraction’, for lack of a better word…) really gave me something to connect with.

‘Eleanor & Park’ is an interesting take on a vaguely ‘Romeo and Juliet’ inspired affair, and I think the romantics out there may appreciate it more than I. But this isn’t just for the struck-by-Cupid, seeing-the-world-through-rose-tinted-lenses type of romantics. I think the capital ‘R’ Romantics may find something in this book too. Specifically the John Keats, ‘Bright Star’ enthusiasts. In fact, I think ‘Bright Star’ is pretty relevant to this book. The way Eleanor and Park fall for each other is kind of like the way Keats writes about his ‘Bright Star’. Complete adoration, almost worship, of something that is just out of one’s reach, even though it can be found right next to you…

Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art—
         Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
         Like nature’s patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
         Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
         Of snow upon the mountains and the moors—
No—yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
         Pillow’d upon my fair love’s ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
         Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever—or else swoon to death.

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