Word Spelunking

Eleanor & Park - Rainbow Rowell This book y'all...THIS BOOK! Writing reviews for book you love should be easy, but it never is. And I LOVED this book. Like, full on madly, completely, obsessively in love with this book. So in love that I'm not sure I have the right words to express why I love it so much. But, since this is a review, and reviews require things like words and sentences (hopefully coherent ones), I will do my best...here are some words: this book wrecked my heart in the most mother-effing beautiful way!Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor & Park is about two misfit sixteen year olds in 1986 who find each other, find first love, find great music, and even find a bit of themselves. Park, the half-Korean boy in the funky t-shirts, feels invisible, while Eleanor, the girl with the big red hair and wacky outfits, is impossible to ignore. These two come from vastly different homes and families, but they bond over comic books, music, and a shared sense of humor. First love hits them hard, but the fall is worth it.Eleanor & Park is YA contemporary at its very best! Rainbow Rowell has crafted something truly spectacular and special. Everything about this book is unforgettable: the characters, the romance, the writing, the way you will feel after finishing it. I wish I could erase this book from my memory simply so I could have the sheer pleasure of reading it for the first time again. It is THAT heart-achingly, heart-breakingly, heartbeat-skippingly good (so good I have to make up words to describe it!).Eleanor & Park doesn't start with a bang or end on an explosive note, it isn't loud or in your face, it doesn't take you to a precipice and drop you over the edge or hurl you even higher. It doesn't need to. The beauty is in its subtlety, in its slow build, reminiscent of the songs Eleanor and Park love so much. This isn't the type of book to gobble up quickly, it deserves to be savored, every page tasted and appreciated. Rowell writes with an addicting humor, unabashed honesty, and a pitch-perfect YA voice that feels timeless. This isn't a sweet and simple love story; the story has hard edges, painful blows, and deals with some heavy stuff, but Rowell delivers and explores these things with finesse and eloquence.At the heart of this book is its main characters, Eleanor and Park. These are two of the best written YA characters I have ever met. They feel so real, like they have to exist somewhere and I could someday happen to sit next to one of them on the bus or be standing behind them in a check-out line. I'm not sure I can choose a favorite, I love them both so much and connected with each of them. They are both just so breathtaking, as individuals and as a pair. Park, with his kind soul, funky t-shirts, and sweet martial art moves, is endearingly charming. And Eleanor, with her sharp wit, courage, and unfailing honest, is a breath of fresh YA air. But I think what I love most about these two, is how they love each other, how they see each other.The romance between Eleanor and Park is so wonderfully executed. It's soft and sexy, sweet and passionate, miraculous and terrifying, at times heart-wrenching (and heart-wrecking), but impossible to turn away from. First love can be insanely intense, all consuming, can feel like the end of the world and just the beginning all at the same time, and the romance between these two is no different. The difference between this YA relationship and other YA relationships that make us roll our eyes or scream in frustration (the insta-loves, the scary obsessive loves, the we-fall-in-love-and-suddenly-become-personality-less loves), is that this love isn't forced, it isn't romanticized for the sake of making readers swoon. It's just real and believable and addicting and, for the few hours it takes you to read this book, it feels like the most important thing in the world.MY FINAL THOUGHTS: Eleanor and Park feel like they have become a part of me; they're in my heart, have been on my mind since I finished the book, and I hope they never leave me. Eleanor & Park has easily made its way into my top favorite books of 2013 and I will be singing its praises fo'evah! A definite must read...seriously, read it, love it, then come talk to me about it!

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