Lat night I finished reading Eleanor & Park which means I now have read all of Rainbow Rowell’s books until Landline will be released this summer. If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen me tweet about my ambiguous feelings about this book. Yes, I’m not head over heels with this one but let me explain.
In the beginning, everything was great. I had all the sympathy for Eleanor and liked the style of the book. Let’s face it, Rainbow Rowell knows how to write; how to string words together into sentences that go down your brain ways like maple syrup but a book can’t live on just that. It was a neat concept of having Eleanor and Parks points of view shift every so often and I really liked Park’s character but after a while, that just wasn’t enough for me anymore.
The subject of growing up with negligent parents and domestic abuse is a heavy subject and I salute the author for writing about it but there was just something missing for me, towards the middle, I got quite annoyed with Eleanor and wanted to yell at her to USE YOUR WORDS! with Park because her keeping all of everything bottled up inside her was exhausting. I understand that Eleanor thinks she can’t share it, and doesn’t want to burden anyone else with it because she is not used to having people in her life she can rely on. I get it. I really, truly do but there was some plot development missing for me here.
There are a LOT of words but plot wise, the story isn’t big. By the end of it, I had more feelings for Park than for Eleanor which seems messed up to me. In my opinion, Rowell spent a little too much time on Eleanor and her problems. We don’t get anywhere with Park and his issues with his father that are talked about but never really broached. It’s all Eleanor all the time.
Like I said above, I do have all kinds of sympathy and empathy for her. My childhood may not have been as bad as hers but my first memory is of my father hitting my mother repeatedly against the wall in his office. He used enough force to crack the plastering, like, really crack it. I must have been 4 or maybe 5 years old when I saw it. Most of the other stuff he did I never saw but my Grandma hints at some of it every now and then. Thankfully, I never lived in fear of getting hurt myself. I don’t want to diminish Eleanor’s struggles but there could have been a bit more going on because 300+ pages was too much and I lost interest in all of the middle of the book.
I can’t decide if Eleanor is meant to be so irritating or if she just feels like it to me or if it’s meant as a character trait of hers. It makes me angry how little she shared with Park, always making him feel left out. He never got the full picture of her life until the very end and even then she doesn’t even write, she doesn’t answer his dozen letters and parcels and it makes me hurt for poor Park. It’s not his fault Eleanor couldn’t stay in town but would it have killed her to call him? I don’t think so.
All in all, this is my least favourite Rainbow Rowell book, sorry. I know there are lost of raving reviews out there and people who absolutely love this book but for me, it just isn’t cutting it. The romance is cute at first but then it gets to the ‘eye-rolling’-stage for me. Maybe I’m simply a cold hearted bitch, the verdict is still out on that one.
So, have you read Eleanor & Park? What did you think?