Issue 19 - Hot Summer Reads

The Chat

Eleanor and ParkEleanor & Park

by Rainbow Rowell

Reviewed by Kerry O’Malley Cerra
Chatted by Jill Mackenzie, Shel Delisle, and Kerry O’Malley Cerra

This is that book. Ya know, the one everyone seems to be talking about. I mean everyone! I didn’t know this at first. I simply bought Eleanor & Park because the cover was so freaking out-of-this-world that I couldn’t resist. And what came after was no let-down.

Eleanor’s a big girl with blazing red hair who totally sticks out as the new girl when she gets on the school bus her first day. Insults are immediately slammed her way and no one rushes to make room for her next to them. Finally, Park—the only Asian kid in Nebraska and a desperate to fly-under-the-radar type kid—moves over, only to save everyone from an inevitable fight otherwise. Destiny? I sure think so.

Told in alternating points of view, we are given the greatest gift of watching two total opposite misfits as they discover love in all its passion, pain, and in its truest form—putting each other before themselves no matter how much it hurts their hearts.

Yep, I can see why everyone’s raving about this book and I guarantee it’ll be hot for years to come.

Shel: jill i'm so glad you recommended this book. i'd been wanting to read it
Kerry: funny i had already bought it to read when jill recommended it. :)
Jill: really, i had never heard of it when it fell into my hands, but the universe is soooo good to me, book-wise. :)
Shel: it has THE coolest cover ever, but the stuff in between the cover was good too!
Kerry: agree...the cover is awesome
Jill: have either of you read her other books? Rainbow Rowell? what a great author name!
Shel: i haven't, but plan to
Jill: me too
Kerry: no, but i to plan to read her other one now. just one, right? attachments?
Jill: i think there are two others now
Shel: she has two more coming out
Jill: pretty sure, actually
Shel: jinx, jill
Jill: yep
Jill: ;)
Kerry: good to know
Jill: michelle, I bet you loved all the music references in it...I sure did
Shel: i did love all the music! like really loved
Shel: so what was your favorite thing about the book (other than the cover)?
Jill: okay, so favorite thing...god, do we have to pick one? can it just be....THE LOVE?????
Shel: do you mean between eleanor and park?
Jill: yes, their love
Kerry: fave thing...the friendship and connection eleanor and park had
Kerry: like i completely bought into it. it was powerful and true and good, yet innocent too
Jill: agreed
Shel: yep, k
Shel: i just loved the characters -- all the characters were so clear to me
Kerry: yeah, even the sub characters like tina and steve. not easy to write like that
Jill: me too, but really good reveals of characters...like, some I misjudged too quick, you know?
Shel: one of my faves was park's mom...i adored her! as a secondary character...of course i loved e & p!
Jill: yeah, but she's one of the ones I was talking about
Kerry: she cracked me up, to be honest
Jill: I didn't like her at times, but in the end, I really did
Kerry: she was so real to me it was like watching her in a movie
Kerry: i think she was human, so it's not that i ever didn't like her
Shel: she was very real...not perfect
Kerry: but i got her
Shel: me too, k
Jill: i had moments where i was so mad at her, but in the end, i got where she stood
Shel: i was mad at el's mom!
Kerry: i liked the contrast between the two moms
Shel: definitely!
Kerry: park's was so protective and el's well...she wasn't protective at all
Shel: agreed, k
Jill: but funnily enough, i felt mad at eleanor at times for similar reasons. in actuality, eleanor and park's mom were very similar
Shel: how so, jill?
Kerry: i can see that jill
Jill: eleanor was very stubborn, and sort of, couldn't always see outside herself...park's mom was like that too
Kerry: both a little bigoted in some ways
Jill: yep
Shel: they had similar upbringing...everything was spread paper thin
Jill: yep again
Shel: but can we all agree we didn't like e's stepdad, richie?
Jill: uh, YEAH
Kerry: pure evilness
Jill: there was nothing to like there
Shel: cockroach
Jill: and by the end...well, I won't spoil it, but WOW. Grr....
Kerry: which brings me to the one page i had to mark and talk about with you all...
Jill: oh goodie! i love that stuff!
Kerry: page 141 when the author writes, "all five of them had learned to cry without making any noise."
Kerry: ohhhh, my. so flipping sad
Jill: incredible. that will always stick out for me
Kerry: like a punch to my gut
Jill: me too, K
Shel: so sad
Jill: and what about eleanor's mom? hate her or just pity her?
Kerry: hate, sorry. a mom should do whatever she can to protect you
Shel: hate is so strong, but i really, really dislike her
Kerry: easy for me to say, maybe, but it's how i feel
Kerry: in a perfect world anyway
Jill: sigh. i'm really stuck between two worlds on this one
Shel: i pity her too, but i dislike her more
Shel: she (sometimes) tried to protect
Jill: yep, and she (sometimes) showed the love, and took the beatings so the kids wouldn't
Shel: but she was so, so, so weak
Kerry: well, she tried to manipulate situations but i don't call that protecting
Jill: manipulating? how so, K?
Jill: (It's been so long, I might not be remembering right)
Kerry: intervening in conversations. putting words into the mouth of eleanor to keep peace with richie
Jill: but it might have been to keep peace with richie, and to deflect the attention away from E...
Kerry: part of me hated her for making eleanor leave for a whole year--like she picked richie over her kid, but i wonder if she did it for eleanor’s sake in a way
Shel: right, k
Jill: yes, that part made me so mad. but I also thought it might have been for E's sake...
Shel: i think she knew
Kerry: right, she manipulated situations to protect. it was the only times i saw her protect
Kerry: still, I don’t think that feeling of abandonment doesn't go away, even if you understand the why of it
Jill: yes, K
Jill: not sure, but I know one thing...i don't usually like sequels, but I could really use one with this book. I'm not THROUGH with them yet!
Kerry: i agree on the sequel thing, because i love spending time with them
Shel: i don't know if i do because....
Shel: i liked the ambiguity of the ending
Jill: Yep, like the end in Lost in Translation
Kerry: hmmm, i didn’t find it ambiguous. i think her postcard clarified things, no?
Kerry: took me a while to figure out what the last three words on the postcard were
Shel: right—but we knew that
Jill: yes, K, but to what extent?
Kerry: el needed her time to heal but she knew what she wanted it
Kerry: overall, it was a brilliant ending
Shel: but we don't know what (if anything) comes after
Kerry: in my head i do. lol
Shel: lololol
Kerry: i'm usually a fairy tale ending kinda girl
Shel: well it was upbeat...considering
Jill: shel did you LOVE the book, or just really really like it?
Shel: i loved certain things about it and i will read anything she writes
Shel: strangely, you know what i didn't love?
Kerry: oh, tell bc i had something too
Jill: really??? i'm dying to know!
Shel: i didn't love the multiple povs and i'm a sucker for stories told that way, but i never really felt like i "got" park in a full way
Kerry: no? hmmm, that was ok for me
Jill: oh god, I LOVED it and TOTALLY got park!!!! i think it was done flawlessly
Shel: i totally understood el, even when she was prickly
Shel: yeah? it must be me
Kerry: yep, just you. lol
Jill: lol
Shel: i never really understood park's attraction to e? or at least not the same way i understood her attraction to park
Jill: really? i understood that. she was the only girl that was DIFFERENT, like him. like when he started wearing the makeup...he knew she'd be okay with him just being him
Jill: I dug it
Shel: aaahhh...okay
Kerry: yeah, he was an outcast in his own way. he had a big heart and at first felt sorry for her but came to love her for her ability to embrace her own weirdness
Kerry: she inspired him to be him
Jill: yes! exactly kerry
Jill: he never felt comfortable in his own skin until he met her...
Shel: ultimate first love story
Jill: totally the ultimate love story
Kerry: so, wanna know what felt off for me?
Jill: yes!
Shel: yep, k
Kerry: don't get me wrong bc i love the story, but...it felt out of date. i wondered at times if the author wrote this in the 80's, stuck it in a drawer, pulled it back out in 2011 or whenever and published it without updating
Kerry: it's not a historical book by historical means
Jill: noooooooooooo......
Kerry: so why not add cell phones, modern bands, and so forth
Shel: really? but it was set in the 80's
Kerry: i loved it bc i loved the 80's, but...
Jill: It WAS set in the 80's!
Kerry: yeah, but why? there was no real reason that it needed to be
Kerry: it was pubbed in 2013
Shel: for kids today the 80's is the same as ancient greece
Shel: lol
Kerry: it wasn't set around a historical event that it required it to be
Jill: i loved that aspect, too. i think it can show that things, really, haven't changed all that much...i mean, why can't it be set in whatever year!
Jill: love is still love. :)
Kerry: it can, but i don't get why
Jill: does there have to be a reason? maybe it just...is
Kerry: i like that it is, but it threw me being a recent pub and all
Shel: let's talk about the LOVE
Jill: yay, the LOVE!
Shel: did it take you back to the first guy you fell for?
Kerry: hmmm, no. but i did love the way it all unfolded
Jill: no. it made me wish i had fallen like that
Shel: oh...i fell like that
Jill: lucky duck
Shel: the obsessive thinking about him?
Kerry: well wait...yes. when he first grabbed her hand. that took me back
Shel: it's kinda painful and beautiful at the same time
Kerry: it was so intense
Shel: you know you shouldn't be so obsessive, but....
Kerry: yeah, it's all you can think about
Jill: painful at the time. beautiful in retrospect
Shel: and that was a pretty sexy hand holding scene!
Jill: yes!
Kerry: what?????
Kerry: sexy?????
Jill: yes, definitely sexy
Kerry: it was sweet
Kerry: did i miss something?
Jill: I don't think so...but you may have missed her heart beating out of her chest...;)
Shel: :)
Kerry: i got that
Jill: well, that's sexy, no?
Kerry: how is that sexy?
Jill: because, it's passionate
Shel: wait!
Shel: remember the hand holding in flipped?
Jill: ?
Kerry: not really
Jill: don't remember that book
Shel: oh, well, that was sweet...accidental, awkward, unplanned. but what made this one sexy is that park planned it and took his time and their connection was incredible
Jill: ooh, good point, shel
Kerry: planned?
Kerry: hmmm, i'll have to reread it. the connection was incredible, but to me it was sweet and not sexy at all
Shel: my final thoughts....
Shel: i LOVED her characters and the subtle way that rainbow rowell writes. i'm not really good at subtle, so it makes me love her writing that much more
Jill: yes, very good thing to love. i completely agree
Kerry: i soooo agree with you there, m
Kerry: everything flowed so flawlessly. it was beautiful and strong
Jill: yes. agreed, all around. :)
Jill: one more thing...i think she captured first love perfectly, without it being cheezy!
Kerry: for sure. i never enjoy a cheesy love story
Shel: it's definitely one of the best first love stories that i've read!
Kerry: awww, this was a great chat, girls
Shel: great chat!!
Jill: I agree. :)