If you ever asked me if there was a genre I don’t or wouldn’t read, I would say chick lit.
Something about the contrived romances, cliched plots, and characters who fall in love instantly don’t seem to do it for me.
Still I was drawn to Eleanor & Park, in park because I have heard the author’s name floating almost everywhere around the internet.
I am new to Rainbow Rowell’s work, but I have heard positive things.
I’ve seen many people offer their thoughts on their blogs and I’ve seen beautiful displays of her books in my local bookstore, Barnes & Noble, and even Target.
I have been eying her books for a while, looking at them thinking, “One day. One day I will read one of these and understand why so many people gravitate towards them.”
Ironically, I first thought of checking out her work when Attachments was recommended to me via a quiz. It is still on my list of books to buy, but I haven’t gotten there yet.
Then while I was searching through Audible for my monthly audiobook selection, I found their Editors’ Choice Sale. Listed in the young adult section was Eleanor & Park and it seemed like as good a time as any to dive into Rainbow Rowell’s work.
Set in 1986, Eleanor & Park details the love story of two teenagers. Eleanor is the new girl at school who loves English class and art, and Park is a Korean American who loves music.
It’s hard to say much more without spoiling the plot of the book, but a tender love story unfolds and I think it worked really well as an audiobook.
With Eleanor & Park, Rowell creates two adorable characters, a chubby redheaded girl with an odd sense of dress and a biracial boy who loves music. They are an unlikely pair and that is part of their charm.
Eleanor & Park is a book I turned to because I needed something lighter to read. After listening to The Girl on the Train and reading books like The Luckiest Girl Alive, I needed something lighter and a bit more hopeful and a little less heavy.
I found it with Eleanor & Park. The setup of two kids meeting on a bus reminded me of reading Jerry Spinelli’s Stargirl years ago. Two characters that are so different but somehow they work.
It was the perfect refresher for the many dystopians and mysteries I have been reading as of late. This is a book that was drenched in 1980s nostalgia, punctuated by mixed tapes, and was overall a really fun listen.
The audiobook is narrated with two voices. Rebecca Lowman voices Eleanor and Sunil Malhotra voices Park.
The teenage voices are captured so perfectly and at several moments I found myself laughing. A couple of my favorite quotes from the book are below to give you an idea of Rowell’s precise work as a wordsmith.
“The least boring Batman story ever, huh? Does Batman raise both eyebrows?”
— Eleanor (Chapter 13)
That night, Park made a tape with The Joy Division song on it, over and over again. He emptied all of his handheld video games and Josh’s remote control cars, and called his grandmother to tell her that all he wanted for his birthday in November was AA batteries.
–Park (Chapter 13)
“Crap!” Cal said. “What do we got? Ophelia was bonkers right? And Juliet was what? A sixth grader?
— Park (Chapter 14)
Disintegrated, like something had gone wrong beaming her onto the Starship Enterprise. If you ever wondered what that feels like, it’s a lot like melting, but more violent. Even in a million different pieces, Eleanor could still feel Park holding her hand.
— Eleanor (Chapter 15)
I loved the two different voices and they way they contrasted with each other. Both Lowman and Malhotra got their characters down really well and handled Rowell’s writing beautifully.
The only thing that I think could have made it better would have been casting a few other characters. Both Lowman and Malhotra had different takes for Mindy’s Korean accent and that was one element that bothered me much more than anything else.
Overall, Eleanor & Park was a beautiful tender story of first love. I loved the two main characters but I think they could have served to be fleshed out just a little more.
I enjoyed it and I can see myself returning to this audiobook again and again for when my brain is in need of some lighter fare.
FINAL RATING: 3 Stars