All right, so, I feel like I’m going to enrage die-hard Eleanor & Park fans by only giving this a 4/5, but I’m hoping you’ll all hear me out.
Honestly, I think this is an excellent book. It’s unique, it’s engaging, and its characters are believable. Eleanor, in particular, shines. She’s not always likeable (who is?) but she’s sympathetic and realistic. And I loved that she was fat. Not ‘curvy’, not ‘she thinks she’s fat but she’s really a goddess’, but actually overweight. If I had a teen daughter/son, I would force-feed them this book (“See, kids? It’s not only glittery vampires** who fall in love. Real-life people do it too.”)
So, why am I only giving it a 4/5? Well, mostly because I’m saving my 5/5s for books that I, personally, could not put down. Books that I stayed up till 3AM to finish, even though I had to work at 5AM the next day. I liked Eleanor & Park – and I can see why so many people love it – but I didn’t stay up till 3AM to finish it. And I think there’s one simple reason for that.
I mean, okay, I’m not actually old. I’m 25. But inside, I’m about 80. And – confession time – I’m kind of over teen romance. I know, I know – being a YA writer who’s bored of YA romance is kind of like being a soccer player who’s sick of running. But it’s true. Exchanging mixed tapes, giving long passionate speeches about why you love someone, using words like ‘endless’ and ‘eternity’… it’s all just a little much for me. I’ve been with my boyfriend – now fiancé – for several years now, and I’m of the old-fashioned opinion that real-life love is a lot less dramatic. It’s explaining why you’re annoyed, instead of being sulky and moody until they ask you what’s wrong. It’s driving them to work at 5AM even though it’s your only day to sleep in (and only complaining about it a little). It’s a million little boring things that would put my 16-year-old self to sleep.
So, at the end of the day, did I like Eleanor & Park? Yes. Would I recommend it? Definitely. Did I fall head over heels in love with it and want to make it a mixed tape? Well, no.
But maybe if I was 16.
**Full disclosure: I have never actually read Twilight. But the vampires in that glittered or sparkled or something, didn’t they?