Book Review : Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

It took me a long time to move on from A fine balance by Rohinton Mistry. I had to reread a few of my   favourite books to come out of the mood, which made me apprehensive about selecting my next book. I was not in mood for reading serious stuff, so I searched for a romantic novel and liked the title Eleanor and Park. The blurb and the cover page looked promising. It was the highest voted book on Goodreads, so I started the book with high expectations.

Here's a summary of the book: It's the story of Eleanor Douglas and Park Sheridan, two teenage, star-crossed lovers, set in 1986. Both of them are misfits in the school full of white people: he being half-Korean and she being fat and poor. Eleanor and Park first see each other in their school bus when Park reluctantly shares his seat with her. He swears at her while offering the seat and feels embarrassed sitting beside her. However, over the next few days, he warms towards her and gradually they bond over comic books and music. Eleanor comes from a poor family with four siblings and abusing step father while Park has a big home and parents who still love each other. Eleanor finds comfort his home and starts spending more time with him. Park struggles to understand her background and mood swings.They gradually learn more about each other and fall in love. Things take a ugly turn in the end and the lovers are forced to separate owing to the circumstances.Whether the love is just a high school crush or if it stands the test of time and distance is the rest of the story.

I should say the book didn't disappoint me even though it wasn't as mesmerising as it promised to be. The problem might just be me. I was not able to relate to the story well. I couldn't relate to the comics or the music bands discussed all through the book. It was very difficult for me to understand why a woman who cannot support herself would give birth to five children at a very young age and then go on to marry an unloving, abusing person. There might be many downsides to Indian culture, but thanks to it we need not fear separation of parents and abuse of step father/mother, one of the major issues, I observe, teenage protagonists in novels face in western culture.

The first love was, however, depicted beautifully. It really makes us remember how it is to love and to be loved, how even the touch of hands makes us wonder if hands are full of nerve endings that send shock all over the body. The last few pages were the best part of the book. It isn't surprising if they bring tears to our eyes and then we realise how much we connected to Eleanor and Park.

Pick it up if you want to relive your teenage memories. My rating 4/5.

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