Author: Rainbow Rowell
Rating: 3 Stars
First, I have to say I was really, really looking forward to this one.
And yet...I don't get it. I fell for the hype (after abandoning Fangirl because it just was NOT good), because every once in a while I'm in the mood for an easy read in the realm of YA fiction. I read this over the course of one afternoon and am left wondering what others saw that I don't.
So, it's not a terrible book by any means, but not so wonderful either. With all the constant references to Eleanor having to take her bath when Richie was gone, it was pretty easy to figure out super early on that he was the one writing that nasty stuff on her school books.
I guess part of the issue for me is how Park could go so fast from telling her to sit the fuck down the first day on the bus, to being in love with her. Their romance never really clicked for me, just like it never made sense to Eleanor herself. I did find myself not ready for the book to end though, because I WANTED it to make sense.
The part that was most heartbreaking for me ended up being Eleanor's home life in general, and that of her siblings. Her mom had a choice to leave or not, but the kids didn't. They were stuck and the line toward the end when Ben and Maisie want Eleanor to take them with her because they want to get out of the house too, but Eleanor tells them there are no other kids to play with, just heartbreaking because it is hopeless for all of them. Even they recognized how awful it was, and Ben was 12, Maisie only 9, maybe 8, I don't remember. I just wanted them to all be okay and thinking as Eleanor and Park were driving to Minnesota, that I hoped the rest of her family would be okay too.
Speaking of, seriously, Park's parents just let him up and drive Eleanor to Minnesota? I did appreciate the line that driving in St Paul was not like driving in Omaha - understatement of the year. I am a Minnesota girl and believe me, there is no comparison between the two. Omaha has NO IDEA what traffic really is. (And I know this, because I have driven extensively in both places. Seriously, Omaha, you are not as big and bad and wonderful as you think you are.)
I liked the alternating point of view, but the writing itself was just disjointed. And it wasn't because of the switching back and forth, even mid-chapter. I think it just comes down to the fact that I don't really enjoy Rowell's writing style. (I'm still holding out hope for Attachments, even when I couldn't make it through her other adult novel, though I forget the name already - in addition to putting aside Fangirl).
On a positive note though, I love that for once, Eleanor of Aquitaine is referenced when their English teacher talks to Eleanor about her name. Usually when people hear my daughter's name, they reference Eleanor Roosevelt. Now, I have no problem whatsoever with Eleanor Roosevelt and admire her quite a bit, but please - my daughter isn't named after the wife of a president, she's a QUEEN. I'm just glad someone besides me knows who Eleanor of Aquitaine is.