Books Magazine

The Smiths and Relationships

By Crossstitchyourheart @TMNienaber

untitled (29)Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

 

Eleanor is the weird kid in class.  As if her frizzy red hair wasn’t bad enough, her mom doesn’t have money to get her the right clothes for the right look, and even if she did Eleanor’s sense of style is not exactly “mainstream”.  Park comes from a loving, functional home, and while he isn’t exactly popular, people like him.  So when Eleanor sits next to Park on the bus Park starts to worry about how it’s going to affect his social standing.  Until he gets to know her.  After bonding over comic books and music Park and Eleanor begin to fall in love.  But, as anyone who knows anything about the Smiths will tell you, any relationship built on the foundation of a mutual love of the Smiths will end in ruin.

 

I picked up this book because of all the fantastic things reviews and friends have been

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saying about it with no real idea of what the premise was other than it was another book about misfit teenagers falling in love.  I enjoyed it immensely but had to change my rating from 5 to 4 stars because I think there are a lot of YA books that have done what Rowell does here only better.  At its heart the plot is not all that original.  It seems like a huge number of YA books published in the 2000s are set in the 80s so the authors can talk about punk rock and Morrissey.  Maybe this is because most of the YA authors popular now were teens in the 80s (I don’t know for sure, I haven’t checked the dates…).

 

Rowell’s strength comes in her characters and without the ability

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to create dynamic characters this book would fall flat on a pretty standard plot.  One of the most refreshing and original things Rowell does her is create dynamic adult characters in a YA novel.  Park’s parents come across as actual people.  They are alive, in love, sometimes angry, sometimes disappointed, sometimes right, sometimes wrong, and they develop throughout the novel as Park starts to see more sides to his parents’ personalities than he original knew were there.  I loved this.  Most YA
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novels gloss over the adult figures and focus on the teens, but Rowell has actually created a dynamic family, and it’s those details that help make this book as good as it is.

 

While the plot itself is not original, the true talent of Rowell’s work lies in her ability to create characters that feel human and through the eyes of Park and Eleanor you will be able to see the world a little differently.  The narration moves quickly and you’ll want to finish this book quickly because you won’t want to put it down.


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