Friday, December 27, 2013

A (Sort of) Review of Eleanor and Park

Confession: I didn't love Eleanor & Park. I enjoyed it. I respected it. I appreciated the unfortunately unusual/refreshingly realistic diversity in race, class, and body image. But it didn't spark anything particular for me. I know that's a terrible thing to say, when every YA book out there is now selling itself "for fans of John Green and Rainbow Rowell", when every YA book blogger is falling over themselves to write a glowing review of it, when John Green himself gushes about it in the freaking New York Times. I wanted to love it, I swear. But I only liked it. And I think I finally figured out why.

For me, I think it comes down to reread-ability. Though this is something I do all the time, rereading the romantic parts of my favourite novels, I had never considered it as an actual measure of a book's quality. But I was talking to my friend the other day and it suddenly clicked. You see, I was lending her Fangirl, a Rainbow Rowell book that I actually did love, telling her over and over how much I loved the romance and the writing and how I just had to underline certain lines and reread certain parts again and again and again like a crazy person. And I realized that I've never done that with Eleanor & Park. I finished it, filed it away on my bookshelf, and only took it out so I could lend it to that same friend when she explicitly requested it because she had heard so much hype about it online. I barely thought about it after I finished the last page. Nothing drew me to it again, which is strange, since it's not like all the books I do chose to reread are of better--or even good--quality. Since I've come home for Christmas break, I've reread Simone Elkeles' Perfect Chemistry, Caridad Ferrer's Adios to My Old Life, and Lauren Morrill's Meant to Be, all of which are of lesser literary quality than Raibow Rowell's YA debut. Yet even now, as I pick up Eleanor & Park to make sure, one last time, that I do not want to reread this book, that it hasn't simply been my laziness or the plethora of other books I have to reread or the various distractions of life, it proves me right. Because once again, I begin flipping through, rereading sections and snippets, and nothing grabs me. Just like before. Nothing's changed. 

Sometimes, I can't stop myself from rereading certain scenes of books even before I've finished the freaking book. This happened with Leah Rae Miller's The Summer I Became a Nerd, a book which completely snuck up on me and completely stole my heart and has remained a monthly, if not weekly, reread since. Sometimes, it happens a few weeks or even months after I've finished the book, as was the case with Stephanie Perkins' Lola and the Boy Next Door. Immediately after finishing Lola, I wrote a review (back in the days when I used to regularly write reviews of books I read, if you can believer it!), definitively ruling it as a lesser follow up to Perkins' stellar debut companion novel, Anna and the French Kiss. Now though, as a lot freaking (tragically Isla-less) time has passed, I think I love Lola more than I love Anna. I have a few more issues with Lola's plotting and character development, but, I have to say it, the romantic moments are better. Or, at least, more reread-able. As fantastic as Anna and Etienne's moments are, Lola and Crickets somehow manage to be so insanely sweet--and hot--that I just have to reread them. I swear, that book contains the best collection of romantic moments I have ever come across. Or reread. 

In both these circumstances, rereading had a huge impact on my overall opinion of the book at hand. Just as the lack of rereading hugely influenced my (unpopular) opinion of Eleanor & Park. This is kind of fascinating to me, a habit I had never really tracked or analyzed before. Typically, you read a book, review it even, and then consider your conclusions on that book as final. People don't typically write book reviews months or years after they read books. I certainly never did. For me, if I didn't review a book within five days of finishing it, I knew I'd never review it. But maybe I should have. Lola and the Door would certainly have faired better. And I'm sure many other books would have as well. 


  1. Welcome back!!!

    Really enjoyed Attachments; Fangirl was another solid one for me. Beautiful writing! Eleanor & Park is one I'm hesitating to read simply because it has SO much love and adoration in the book world-- not quite unanimous but almost.

    Reminds me of when I finally succumbed to Divergent after so much book love and "you must read it"...and I disliked it.

    1. Hey! I don't know how long this return is going to last, especially considering I start school again next week, but it's nice to be here while I can be.

      What did you dislike about Divergent? It certainly wasn't one of my favourite books ever or anything. I just never got all that invested in that world. And I really disliked Insurgent. Allegiant was better, at least.

    2. It's so nice to have you- and your writing- back!

      I thought the writing in Divergent was juvenile, and the world-building sub-par. To me, it seemed that there was violence, and attempts at inserting shocking violence, for the sake of it. Tris, I never warmed to, and many plot points (train jumping, excessive tattooing) seemed non-nonsensical. I just heard so many tremendous things about the book I expected to be wowed. I just wasn't.

      My two cents about the book...

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