Another bookish post coming to you today, one that was slightly surprising to me. I was very reluctant to read Rainbow Rowell’s books at first, because they were so hyped up. Everyone seemed to be talking about her books, all the time; especially Eleanor and Park. Eventually, because my curiosity out ranked my weird aversion to THE HYPE, I picked up Fangirl. I fell in love with that story. Cath is one of my favorite literary characters in that she is so, unapologetically normal, and has a huge love for fanfiction. She is so enthralled in her fan fic, and it reminded me of how I react to a good story. I obsess over it, research it, talk about it all the time, recommend it to EVERYONE. So Cath resonated with me, and I fell in love with her character.
Fangirl is super great, so I would definitely check it out if you like normal girls who love to write fan fiction. But alas, we are here to talk about Eleanor & Park.
This story is phenomenal. I don’t use that word to describe many books, but I am using it for this one. Rainbow Rowell is an absolute genius. She developed the characters of Eleanor and Park so well. Eleanor, with her slightly hostile, understandably insecure, witty self; and Park, with his equally insecure, slightly narcissistic, kind, self. They are opposites in a multitude of ways, but find common ground on their love for comic books, The Smiths, and eventually, each other.
Eleanor and Park has one main theme coursing through it: insecurities can sometimes affect the love we accept from others. Rowell very accurately depicts how hard it is to love someone else wholly, when you don’t love yourself in that way, or don’t believe you deserve that kind of love.
Eleanor resides in a very dysfunctional home, with an abusive step father, and a placating mother. In multiple chapters, we see her fighting Park’s affection, believing that she is not worthy of the way he sees her or loves her. It’s easy to understand why she loves him: he’s cool, gorgeous, and kind, and she trlls him so. But those attributes are why she wonders why Park loves her back. Park, simultaneously, is super frustrated with Eleanor because he doesn’t understand why she pushes him away, why she reacts the way she does to his feelings for her.
I think that aspect of the book, the insecurity of self mixed with how we love, is what I rooted for the most, because it’s so accurate and honest. We all want to be loved, but do we all feel that we deserve to be loved? As Stephen Chbosky says, “we accept the love we think we deserve” and I think that is the most frustrating, human aspect of this story, especially for Eleanor. She struggles with accepting the love Park is willing to give her.
This story is beautiful. I gobbled it up in a couple days, and thought about it for longer after. It’s fantastic. Read it, when you get the chance. I will never again underestimate Rainbow Rowell. She’s an amazing writer. Carry On is next on my list, a not-so-sequel to Fangirl.
Let me know if yoy have picked up anything by Ms. Rowell. Happy reading!
Disclaimer: Eleanor and Park is very much a young adult read. There is quite a bit of language use, and some references that are not appropriate for younger ears. Just something to be mindful of.