Summary: Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.
Eleanor…Red hair, wrong clothes.
Standing behind him until he turns his head.
Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making
Everyone else seem drabber and flatter
And never good enough…Eleanor.
Park…He knows she’ll love a song before
He plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes
Before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s
A place on his chest, just below his throat,
That makes her want to keep promises…Park.
Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. (Summary from cover of book and image from Goodreads.com)
My Review: This book came highly recommended. I'm afraid I didn't enjoy it quite as much as the friend who recommended it though. There was more colorful language than I prefer. The nuances that make the story interesting required me to have grown up and listened to the same music as the characters...but I was born about 5 years too late. So, to start, I was a bit disappointed that I wasn't swept up in the story like I'd been told I would be.
That's not to say it's not worth reading. Because if you're looking for a sweet romance, this is a nice one. Eleanor and Park's relationship grows so sweetly, slowly, organically, that is does feel real. A first love is one that, while memorable and impressionable, I've found isn't the easiest to realistically recreate in a novel. Rowell does this with ease. Another aspect I liked was how the main characters, Eleanor and Park, are both just normal kids. I only wish I could understand all the nuances of the songs she strategically placed throughout the novel.
If you lived through the 80's, listened to the radio, recording your favorites and sharing your favorite mixed tapes with friends, this book might appeal to you. If you had a sweet first love, one where you truly felt loved and understood and want to relive that, this might be the book for you. If you have ever had a wrong first impression of someone, one where you grew to love someone you didn't expect to love, this may be the right book-fix for you. Once I got past the first couple chapters, I was hooked and enjoyed the storyline.
For the sensitive reader: There are quite a few f-bombs. The first couple pages had so many I almost didn't continue. They are mostly concentrated at the beginning. There are some depictions of steamy romance scenes--but stopping at 2nd base. There is also something I can't disclose because it ruins the twist in the story.
Rating: 3.5 stars
Sum it up: A sweet love story, 80's style, with a twist.