Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
or: Man, I Wish I Could Connect With These Characters
The problem I was faced with in the case of this book was, once you give a ‘favourite’ status to an author, your expectations of their work becomes slightly ridiculous.
Rowell made me fall in love in Fangirl, so when I ran to the book store to grab this book not long after reading, its safe to say my expectations for this book were monumental.
Unfortunately, I was left slightly disappointed. I was left slightly adrift with this book.
I’m giving this book 3 stars.
In most aspects, this book did not let me down; Rowell is a masterful storyteller and her style and control over her plot and characters is remarkable and she makes the pages seem to just fly by.
My main problem with this book? I just couldn’t connect with the characters. I loved the plot, premise, story development and other things, it’s just that Eleanor and Park (both) felt gulfs away from me.
I don’t necessarily think it was to do with the time setting – the 80’s was the perfect place to set this story and its so rare that this decade is chosen that it was refreshing- but more to do with the characters themselves. Eleanor seemed flat and dull and I get she wasn’t supposed to be a character immediately likable, I understand what Rowell’s trying to do, but I don’t think she (Eleanor) quite reaches the level she needs to.
Once I realized, after 100-200 pages or so, that I would simply never collect with Eleanor, I gave up hope of connecting with Park too. Which is a shame because Park himself, held a lot of promise. It’s rare that we get such a racially diverse couple as the protagonists in a story like this, but this book seemed like an empty promise of their relationship.
Because I didn’t really care for these characters, I found it hard to care when their relationship had problems and ultimately failed. I was more relieved that the story was wrapping up which I feel terrible for saying but honestly feel is the case.
Rowell is ultimately tackling subjects that most authors shy away from, which is a great part of why I admire her so much. She doesn’t make glamorous characters or stereotypes. She creates characters you connect with. I just didn’t this time. I honestly think that this book is just a case of a good author having a bad day. My feelings are the same about Looking For Alaska; good author just a misfire of a book.
Which is a shame because I really wanted to like this story. I wanted it to be a perfect flow on from “Fangirl”. I wanted to be swept away. I was left punctured to the earth.
Now I’m kind of alone in this opinion, a lot of people love this story and hold it as their favourite Rowell work. You may very well love this book and I greatly encourage you to read it because even if you don’t end up liking it, this book is still a worthwhile read.