Saturday, May 6, 2017

Book Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, narrated by Rebecca Lowman and Sunil Malhotra (audio)

I'm trying not to torture readers by telling you all about books not out for months, but I'm about out of books to review otherwise! But I do have a couple of audiobooks still left, so here is one.

Wow, this book was amazing. At the end, I just couldn't stop listening. I was so scared for Eleanor, and so proud of Park's bravery. I hope I'd be able to do what each of them did, had I been in their shoes.

Eleanor is new at school in the middle of the semester, after her new step-father finally lets her come back to live with her family (she'd been staying on her mother's friend's couch for months). There's no where to sit on the bus until Park finally lets her sit next to him. He thinks she's weird. She just wants to  get through each day. Eventually they start to like each other, bonding over comic books that they share (she starts reading them over his shoulder) and eventually, they are  boyfriend and girlfriend. But all is not good, as Eleanor's step-father is just awful. Her home life is pretty dreadful. There's barely enough food, she only has a few items of clothes, and as a big girl who started school late and is quiet and smart, she's also bullied at school. She does start to make friends, and Park helps immensely, but it's still really bad. Park's home life is pretty normal for the late-1980s. He wants to get his driver's license, and thinks his parents are too overprotective. It's jarring for Eleanor to see someone with a normal, happy home. And makes her home life looks even worse by comparison. Sometimes you don't realize how awful something is when you're in it, but Eleanor does. And then it gets worse.

This is a really powerful, and important book. Like many tragic YA novels, it helps teens mentally cope with an awful situation before they're actually in it and have to face it for real. Because unless you lived a very sheltered life, pretty much all of us had at least one friend who we thought might be being abused at home, right? But what do you do? Do you say something? To whom? What do you say? Will you just make the situation worse?

Ms. Rowell creates here a very believable and beautiful relationship between Park and Eleanor, and a sadly true situation at Eleanor's home. I truly was scared at the end of the book and couldn't stop listening. But it's definitely for older teens, and also it's an excellent book for adults who might have forgotten how rife with trauma and angst, teenagehood was all about. Bonus points if you were yourself a teen in the late '80s.

No comments: