REVIEW: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

aka the book that finally made me realize that I needed to cut ties with someone who obviously didn’t have my back, no matter how many times they tried to say they did. Sadly, this review is for you.

I liked Eleanor & Park, just liked. I don’t know how to love a book that didn’t deal with the issues it presented, that didn’t develop the characters past even one of their flaws, and that took the easy way out. I’m going to make you not like this book with this review aren’t I? 
But there are some things I loved about it.
I loved the hand holding. I loved the imperfectness. I loved that it didn’t answer all the questions or solve the abusive step father problem, and most of all I loved Mindy.
There’s something sacred about having a Korean mother. It reminded me of my Gilmore Girl days, though Mrs. Kim was far more scary than Mindy ever was. Mindy was the type of Korean that got under your skin though, and made me laugh. Her dialogue was written in exactly the way I’ve heard many of the customers at the McDonald’s I worked at speak. Rainbow Rowell was even pertinent to add how Mindy pronounced all v’s like b’s. Perfection.
It’s small details that make me like a book. I couldn’t understand how Park was this scrawny ugly weird asian kid on a bus one moment and then the next he wasn’t half bad. I mean he was still that weird asian kid on the bus, but Rainbow allowed us to see him differently in that moment. 
I liked Eleanor about as much as I could. I really wanted her to improve her clothes, even just a little bit, and maybe let Mindy fix her frizzy hair, but it was the 80’s and that wasn’t going to happen. I suppose in not changing the way Eleanor was, Rainbow was also explaining that there was really nothing wrong with Eleanor’s wardrobe of baggy men’s clothes with pins and other weird things hanging to them in all manner and fashion. That there was also nothing wrong in wearing men’s ties around her wrists. 
Still, that little voice in my head that always told me to blend in, kept saying, blend in Eleanor …
The ending caught me off guard. It was anticlimactic. They spend all of this time getting close, Eleanor learning to trust Park, trust his family, a middle class family that was still not well off but better than hers, and then at the end of it, it just ends. There’s no real crisis, no wrap up at the end to tell us what might have happened next, nothing. 
Three little words, and that’s it.
So I liked it, I tried to love it, but I couldn’t. And this entire Eleanor and Park thing is what prompted me to talk to my critique partner who I’ve been friends with before I had the first draft of Surrender finished. Someone who read the very first draft of Surrender and told me what was wrong with it, the person I spent countless hours on gchat with pouring out my literary soul. I’d have panic attacks in her presence over my publishing journey and now it’s over. 
I think it’s unfair to say why in a blog post, but let’s just say that talking about Eleanor & Park lead into talking about other things, and other things lead into me feeling like crap for being successful. I don’t need people in my corner who are only going to tear me down for the things I’ve fought for. 
Eleanor didn’t really tell Park if she’d call or stay in touch once the end came, it just came and like that it was over between them. Eleanor didn’t call Park and I’m not going to call or talk to the person who didn’t really have my back all along. It’s just over. 
And it saddens me.

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