Book Review: Eleanor and Park

Eleanor & ParkEleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell is a much talked about book, narrating a teenage love story, where the two central characters are portrayed as misfits in their high school. The book tries to focus on certain issues related to race, gender roles and identity, with a certain focus on abusive and disruptive families.

In a few words, my views do not correspond with that of Mr. John Green (an author I admire) in his New York Times review of the book.

The book is set in 1986 in Omaha, Nebraska. To summarize, the book begins promisingly with a half-Korean teen boy, Park, who is fed up of the “morons” at the back of his school bus, when a new girl (dressed in some ways like a guy or rather as someone seeking attention), Eleanor, boards the bus. She fails to find a seat for herself and ends up sitting along side that “stupid Asian kid”. Sharing seats soon transforms into a friendship, and furthermore into a romantic relationship, as Park begins lending his books and starts making mix tapes for her.

Eleanor comes from a troubled family, living in fear in the shadow of her abusive stepfather. And thus, she begins a relationship with Park in private, with all her insecurities bound within. Thus begins long monologues which are supposed to make teenagers teary eyed and make them feel warm and fuzzy. With anecdotes like, “I want to eat his face”, “He is so pretty”, “She has freckles even on her lips”, etc., the book, without any attainable pace, moves on, until Eleanor finds out something terrible that she makes a decision to run away. Park comes to her rescue.

To add into the mysterious note (which this book is not supposed to create, but I would, so as to make the review a tad bit more interesting), what would happen next? Will her stepfather catch her? What would happen to the relationship? Will hearts be broken?

This book is appealing to the fans of authors like John Green and Sarah Dessen.

What I liked about the Book?

1. It is an easy read, and thus, I found it alright to read, paying only half my attention to what was going on.

What I didn’t like about the Book?

1. The entire setting and development is flawed. The narration, whether of school life or Park’s internal discord, whether of Eleanor’s tragic home or of the romantic development, never becomes concrete. An attribution to reality is what this book lacks in. And that is something important for YA and coming of age books. I would put this book in the category overflowing with Nicholas Sparks’ works.

2. The book fails in addressing social issues which it only strives to achieve. The racism is only referred to in sidelines. There is no difficulty faced by Park as such on being half-Korean. Bullying and abusive parents are the issues that might evoke a small response on the part of the reader.

3. The intimate scenes/passages in the book are quite cheesy. The writing is only half good. The back and forth point of view is distracting.

4. The ending is a little abrupt but that is alright. The problem is that it is done in such a way to make the readers swoon and eager to know what happens next. If the author actually wanted to keep the ending abstract, the book could have finished a few pages short of the actual ending. It was deliberately done to evoke discussions on social forums and to add into the charm that teenagers find in such books.

I would recommend fans of YA only, to read this book. This book is not for the readers, seeking a coming of age tale or an adult romance. This book is only good as long as you want a peaceful, simple and uncomplicated reading experience. This book just won’t make you think. And so, if you want a distraction from your thoughts, you might want to give it a try.

View all my reviews

(My review might sound a little blunt but that is how I felt about the book. I failed to empathize with the characters. Many would call me heartless, to which I would reply that my heart works in correspondence with my mind.)

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Unseeable Identities

you are that unseeable identity, that

if I could touch you, I’d have to believe

that the stars have convulsed my destiny,

into a deep dense breath that passed

through your lips the last, which if I

could, I would store in my thought and

cling to you, stopping in your tracks,

.

but never did I know that I am helpless

and you were as well, and the story did end

the way it started, in anonymity of self,

by the destructive divulge, that dearth of

the flower of empathy that never sprouted,

.

its seed lost, smashed under the wheels

of your car, and your words did it all,

they hit my face with a blunt force and

I do not bleed, I am just left with shapes

of your anger, painful to sweetening while

the tears sting them with my obsession

over what was there, so trivial once,

.

now buried in mounds where a cactus grows up

surrounded by hills, it, you, everyone is still

alone and I am alone cherishing droplets

of blood that sprout out of my palms as

I longed to touch your identity and did,

.

still left without knowing what is that

treacherous triviality which made it so

that I ache to hear you in the dark so

that you can pull me to where you are

and make me a cup of tea and we talk

throughout the day, through the night

sitting on jute mattresses, I yearn to

hear you tell your tale and I hold your hand

as you guide me back to this time, your time

long gone, your name scratched by nameless

bystanders who still wait to spit once again

where there your bones lay dead, and I sing

a song of solitary sentence that not only

ceases the breath, but also erases a life

and a fate, and I sing, to continue, I sing

.

© Anmol Arora 2014

Image source: Painting © Arnaud Demol

I appreciate constructive criticism.

Walking with her… in her heels

she wakes up drenched in the ocean of dreams,

and hurries off to repair, work on her life’s seams,

brushing rivulets of her hair, she leans into the mirror,

considering self, moving forward near and nearer,

only disturbed by the ring of the peaceful phone,

but deciding whether to attend it or not, it is gone

to leave a silence, that she tastes tingling on her lips,

and finally, she leaves for the streets, swaying her hips,

down the path to the usual location, she waits,

habitually ignoring the trail of car after car that rates,

the size and shape of her and others of her business,

conforming to their needs, their lives of weakness,

one hand points towards her, agreeing her to come,

she notices, complies, and through the door she sits glum,

on the seat reeking of cigarettes and urine of old,

she feels the four wheels move, she is now sold

to the night, forgetful of her heart that refuses to beat,

she falls out, not to see a thing or hear the fall of sleet,

coming to herself, she stands, stumbling, stiffness she feels,

exits a bar, a motel, an apartment in her heels,

carefully counting the bills, walking on into the day,

alone on the path where there are many and many  lay,

but no one really is, but for dreams that await on the single bed,

those false entities have no seams repaired, she has no threads

.

Image source

I started off without any thought but then I was reminded of the insensitivity of some people towards those… whose lives they have not lived and yet they judge. They do not know how it is to be in their shoes. I feel and I can at least try to imagine their lives… and give words to their untold stories. This is a work of fiction but it may well be a real life account… I don’t know.

I appreciate constructive criticism.

I am linking it up with dVerse Meeting the Bar.