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This book manages to touch some deep subject matter in a very delicate way. It deals with bullying and violence and yet, amongst all the drama, the author captures the wonder, thrill and intensity of first love. I particularly treasured that we actually saw Eleanor and Park fall in love. I have nothing against “insta-loves” but this was a refreshing change of pace. Eleanor and Park fell in love “slowly and then all at once”. You could feel how their relationship was changing in the little details, and that made me crazy happy because love is tasted in the details and the author nailed it perfectly!
The author managed to weave this delicate drama filled plot into the natural rhythm of life. The book wasn’t slow paced, nor too fast, giving you the sense of everyday routine; producing a powerful effect. It made the story real and tangible.
The story is compelling and heartbreaking and it flawlessly depicts the truth behind the notion of not “judging a book by its cover”, or just plain straight prejudice.
I liked Eleanor very much, and I personally think of her as an inspiration. Let’s face it she was ODD, but mainly because of the circumstances that surrounded her, rather than by choice. She didn’t have the money to buy regular clothes, so she wore what she could; she couldn’t afford pissing of her step dad, so she lay really low; and she was born with crazy hair, so she accepted it. Really teaches you the lesson that behind every person there’s a story we ought to get to know. In any case, it seemed like the world forces were working against her, but she kept a positive attitude. You hardly saw her crying, or complaining, she did the best that she could with what she got. That is simply admirable! I think I would completely act out, but she didn’t. She is an everyday hero.
Park on the other hand, was a regular kid trying to pass inadvertently; a mission that became increasingly hard the moment he started hanging out with Eleanor. He made me really proud when he finally accepted his differences and gathered the courage to face the fact he was in love with her. I even was proud of Park’s mom, who generally was just the sweetest mom, when she accepted her as well. Adults can also be judgmental at times.
To sum up, the process he experienced was moving, and the author really portrayed the struggle he had to face.
Rainbow Rowell has a magnificent sense of human feelings and processes and she sure knows how to put them into words. She is brilliant with descriptions. Nevertheless the book at times felt a little slow, I think maybe some things could’ve been spared. But all in all it is a masterpiece!
Finally, I think that having two points of view was essential to the story, because otherwise it would have been impossible to see how Eleanor and Park fell in love. We wouldn’t have gotten a hold of the subtle changes they were experiencing, and we couldn’t have figured out how they changed each other’s lives.
The fact that there were two narrators, one for each point of view, was crucial in the gender role representations. This, of course, wasn’t an issue. Nevertheless, at times Rebecca Lowman had to narrate some Park parts as Sunil Malhotra, had to do some Eleanor parts. It was scarce, but it wasn’t the same as hearing the actual voice they gave their original characters; yet they were almost as good, and if there wasn’t another narrator I wouldn’t have noticed. The pace in which they read though, was very calm. Almost too calm for me, which I guess goes right with the tone of the novel, but I need a bit more action. I’m a very restless person. However, it does not mean it was plain. They made the right voice inflexions in the right places, so it was a live story, just a very calm tone. I will like to end noting that I really loved how Sunil Malhotra did Park’s mom. I think he nailed her accent, and made her character funny and adorable.