Thursday, November 21, 2013

Eleanor & Park

In the book, Park says “Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn't supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.” and my goodness does this book make you feel SO MANY THINGS!

Rainbow (I loved her a thousand times before even reading this, for her name) wrote this like an art piece. It's rough and moody, honest and captivating, sweet and filled with deep love, and its colours fill every little piece of your heart.

I love that it's set in the 80s. I love the song lyrics and band names, the cassette tapes and the landline phones. I love that Eleanor and Park are broken in their own delicate way, but that neither tries to change or redefine the other. Their love is a 'let me learn you, I want all of you' kind of thing. And it never feels like they're trying to fix each other, because they don't see any part of the other as broken.

I thought this was going to be another cute love story set in a difficult-to-be-together situation, but it was nothing like I could ever imagine. The way Rainbow writes Eleanor's home life and internal thoughts, is more intimately realistic than my heart could take.

And while this book is filled with the heartbreaking, harsh realities of life, it is also filled with thousands of tiny adorable moments of discovered love. Wildly vivid descriptions of moments shared, and observations about each other that sound like whispers. They're entranced by each other. I love that she smells like vanilla, and the way she is one of the kids and set apart from them at the same time but loves them completely. I love the role that Park's parents and their past plays into Park and Eleanor's relationship and future.

I really feel like I'm playing down the cuteness of the couple, but oh gosh you need to know they're adorable! Their story is filled with giggles and electric touches, and kisses that they never want to end. Their conversations are filled with life, strong opinions, song lyrics and love for other worlds. It's a sweet, sweet strong love that will make your heart sing, and you'll find yourself giggling into the book cover.

Eleanor and Park are in high school, and share a brief time together, but the love feels real, and mature and heavy in a way that can only make you feel light. Dealing with obstacles simply by being there for each other and in each other's hearts.

Wow, I think I have said 'each other' a million times here. Just, read the book. Like I will, a hundred more times this year and for many years to come. It's a book that leaves you with the feeling that you just read something incredibly important. It doesn't feel like just a story, it feels like you lived through something courageous and hopeful.

I love the way John Green ends his review of this book (I just found it while looking at fan art of the story) and so I will end mine with his words:

Early in the novel, Park’s English teacher asks him why “Romeo and Juliet” has survived 400 years. With Eleanor looking on, Park says: “Because people want to remember what it’s like to be young? And in love?” After a moment, he adds, “Is that right?”

It is. “Eleanor & Park” reminded me not just what it’s like to be young and in love with a girl, but also what it’s like to be young and in love with a book.

If I ever get to meet Rainbow, I'd want to give her a hug, and a very simple, sincere 'Thank you.' for sending a gift this beautiful, with so much heart, into the world.