Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Why I Liked Mindy (and Of Course, Eleanor and Park)
I loved this book. I didn't expect to like it from the blurb (reminiscent of Jane Eyre, for me. Why cheer on two unlikable and unattractive characters?). Hahaha. What a shallow reader I am. It turns out, Eleanor & Park is something that I should have read long ago. It was so authentic. It sucked me right in. I, somehow, could identify with Eleanor: that home situation where you're always walking on eggshells. I know that. Rowell had that uncanny ability to zero in on a Romeo & Juliet episode in my life and make it literature.
A friend of mine recommended this book. As in, "read it naowww!" she said. According to her, the book combined the passion of first love with bullying and racial discrimination. Yes, on those three points. Plus, I saw in it added dimensions of family dysfunction and identity building. It hurt on so many levels but it fascinated me, too. The shifting POVs definitely helped improve my appreciation of the story. Also, the fact that it was set in 1986 was a bonus. The 80s were my growing up years. There was so much I didn't appreciate based on E and P's playlist.
My favorite character? She was a side character, not one of the main characters. But I very much loved, Mindy, the mom of Park. I especially loved the part when her feelings for E took a turn for the better. It can easily be missed. That's why I loved the subtlety of how Rowell described that scene. It was through Park's eyes: no judgment, no interpretation.
All in all, highly recommended book. The thing is, I feel like the last person on Earth to have read this book because everyone is already on Rowell's third or fourth book. Oh well. Better late than never. I am now a fan.
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