The Book Nook: ‘Eleanor & Park’ brings back innocence and real romance

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Mackenzie Bedford/Staff

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The book:

“Eleanor & Park” by Rainbow Rowell

Suggested for:

Anyone who wants to remember what it’s like to be innocent and discover a new and exciting relationship

Clog rating:

4-Clogs

Most of us are so caught up in the constant stress and complications of college life that dating becomes just another anxiety-provoking endeavor. We forget to slow down and enjoy a new romance and the simple joys that it can bring. “Eleanor & Park” by Rainbow Rowell paints a perfect picture of first love and all the exciting intricacies that accompany it. While there’s sometimes a stigma that young adult novels are less sophisticated or too cheesy to be taken seriously, this book is just as complex as an adult fiction novel.

The story follows the relationship of new girl Eleanor and completely average boy Park from their first encounter on a bus ride to their tumultuous junior year of high school. The tale is narrated in turns by Eleanor and Park, allowing readers to see the development of each character’s attitude toward the other happening in real time. Rowell writes with distinctive voices for each character, exposing both Eleanor’s extreme self-confidence issues and how wonderful Park thinks she is.

While the discovery of new love is the main focus of the book, what sets this novel apart from “cheesy” young adult novels (or, really, any sappy PG-rated romance novel) is the delicate treatment of each character’s reality. Eleanor’s and Park’s lives don’t just immediately revolve around each other once their relationship begins. Their interactions are shaped by their lives outside of each other. This is not to say that their romance becomes tortured in some tragic kind of Nicholas Sparks way but that the characters become much more relatable.

Plus, Rowell’s funny. You’ll probably laugh out loud while reading this book. Eleanor’s sarcastic and sassy remarks combined with Park’s “maturing-teenage-boy” inspired hilarity make for some very humorous reading. It’s always enjoyable when a book can pull you into the drama and remind you that it’s okay to laugh.

While most of us forget to take the time to really get to know other people in all of their wonderful weirdness, it’s nice to be reminded that it’s great to really appreciate a person for who they are — and to have someone feel the same about you.

Contact Mackenzie Bedford at [email protected]