The best way to explain myself as a person is to say that Raymond Chandler and Rainbow Rowell are two of my favorite writers. Chandler captures mood and cool so well, and Rowell captures growing up and heartbursts/breaks better than anybody that I can think of. Those are my two favorite things to read about. Cool people and normal people. (Does anyone have any recommendations combining Chandler and Rowell?) My first foray into the world of Rowell was Attachments because it was recommended by y’all Cannonballers. It was fantastic. I picked up Eleanor & Park simply because it was a downloadable audiobook at my library by Rowell. While Attachments has more to do with my current life stage, I think E&P is even better, and I would recommend it to anyone at any stage of life.
Eleanor & Park centers on the titular characters, Eleanor and Park. Eleanor is new to school and has to sit by someone on the bus on her first day. She is kind of a mess – she has weird clothes, she looks dirty, and she is big. In a very Forrest Gump moment, no one will let her sit down on the bus except for one person – Jenny. I mean Park. Park is the best kind of cool kid – the kind who has no idea that he’s cool. He is half-Korean, very handsome, into cool music, and easily able to navigate the various social groups at school. I’m a straight married guy and I pretty much fell for Park about an hour into the book. As you can tell from the book cover and the first ten minutes of the story, so does Eleanor.
Just like how Rowell’s Attachments is a romantic story but is mostly about people changing, so is E&P. That’s why Rowell is so good. Both Eleanor and Park seem like very real people (Rowell has said before that characters come to her fully developed) with lived-in lives. They have friends and family that existed before this story and will exist after the last page of the book. The English teacher is an interesting characters. The moms are interesting characters. Even the obligatory school bully is an interesting, nuanced guy!
I recommend this book.