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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Rainbow and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

Official Book Summary:

Bono met his wife in high school, Park says.
So did Jerry Lee Lewis, Eleanor answers.
I'm not kidding, he says.
You should be, she says, we're 16. 
What about Romeo and Juliet?
Shallow, confused, then dead.
I love you, Park says.
Wherefore art thou, Eleanor answers.
I'm not kidding, he says.
You should be. 
Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits-smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you'll remember your own first love-and just how hard it pulled you under.
Eleanor is a curly haired redhead with a strange sense of fashion. She's also poor, lives in an abusive home and has two emotionally abusive parents. Besides her abusive biological parents, her step-father is also extremely abusive; both verbally and physically.

Park is biracial; his mom is from Korea and his dad is a tough war veteran. He likes indie music. He also only wears black and is one of the few non-white kids in the neighborhood. In short: Park and Eleanor are both atypical, both 'others' and both seemingly misplaced.

I guess you could call it fate when Eleanor and Park end up sharing a bus seat; quickly morphing from strangers who irritate one another, to kind of friends who hold hands and share music to dating one another.

I feel like this is one of those books that I liked, but definitely didn't love. The parts that annoyed me really annoyed me. Such as the random grammatical errors which I found distracting (iE, the wrong amount of periods in the ellipses or the half completed sentences, etc). 

The quick shift in the relationship that happened between Park and Eleanor was irritating to me, too, as I was reading it. I think the alternating POVS -- as well as the writing style -- made it hard for me to connect to the characters.

I did like that Eleanor was plus sized. We need more plus-sized characters, especially in YA. The same way that I enjoyed that Park was biracial. I think diversity is important! I think it was interesting to see their lives juxtaposition since they both were unlike their peers in a lot of ways. Park wasn't white, Eleanor was poor, etc.

I felt that the novel danced around a lot of issues. For example: Park expresses issues with his body because he's Korean. It's a topic that really is interesting because there's a huge focus to be blonde, have blue eyes, etc. There's a huge focus to be the most attractive, but there's a very one-sided view of attractiveness in America. But after Eleanor says that are in fact hot Asian guys (she uses Bruce Lee as an example), it's completely forgotten.

Even though Eleanor is poor, why does it never come up except in passing? I don't think that the author was trying to dance around the issues necessarily. 

I think it was more so that there was just so much going on plot-wise that it was hard to accurately address every issue. I loved how the issues were raised (how often do we see male hero bring up body issues?) but I felt like they never got their conclusion.

Honestly the most frustrating thing to me was the ending. One of the reasons why I did enjoy "Eleanor and Park" was because it did feel real. I could really see Eleanor escaping her abusive home with her new relationship and Park struggling with what it meant to be "Korean." 

It really did remind me of what it felt like to be so mesmerized by somebody that you can't believe they're real.

But the ending? I have a hard time believing that Park's father would allow him and his fifteen year old girlfriend to drive numerous states away to bring her to her uncle's house. Just process for that for a minute: their sure fire plan is to drive to Eleanor's uncle's house when Eleanor hasn't even double-checked that her uncle still lives there or is okay with her staying there. 

I felt bad that Eleanor didn't think of her siblings, but I understand that she's just a kid too. The siblings, I can understand. However, not calling her uncle? It's the 1980s, not the 1890s! Telephones exist!

Mostly I was just blown away at Park's parents for not being actual parents in this situation. I could see if it Park and Eleanor ran away together (without consent) to her uncle's, but the fact that Park's dad knew was so frustrating. I was also so mad, too, for Park being angry that Eleanor fell asleep. 

I was also upset that Eleanor never returned any letters or notes. Even if she just wrote a letter that said, "Park, I can't handle long distance relationships. Let's break up." The idea of just stringing the relationship without closure was so scary. I also found it totally OOC for Park's parents to be okay with this.

I don't think I will ever reread this, but I am looking forward to reading "Fangirl."

Even though I didn't see the loving devotion that it gets, I definitely see why people liked it. I may sound critical, but I genuinely did like it. It's just not what I was excepting. To me, it wasn't an outstanding YA novel. 

However, it was a nice read, despite my issues with it. I think this could have much, much more -- if it was executed differently. Despite it, I'm looking forward to Rowell's other works.

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