Guys, did you know that some publishers do little video previews for books? I seriously had no idea, but this is very, very sweet, and a nice way to introduce Eleanor & Park, which was my book club pick for April/May.
I might have mentioned this before, but my book club is a group of two girls who are old friends from high school plus me. We used to put on wizard robes and attend midnight screenings of Harry Potter (yes, really. We were possibly the least rebellious teenagers in the history of ever – or at least in the history of suburban south-west Calgary and its rural surroundings). Now both of them are married, one is a mom of an adorable almost-three-year-old, and we like to read teen fiction from time to time to remind us of the silly 17-year-old girls that we used to be.
Eleanor & Park was my first book club pick for 2013 and I chose it based solely on this New York Times review by John Green, although I found out afterwards that it’s also a Heather’s Pick at Chapters/Indigo. I also really liked the author’s name ‘Rainbow Rowell’ and I thought about that for a long time when I first started looking into this book (normally I just grab and go with books, but choosing a book club pick requires careful thought, as they are subject to the judgement of my two wonderful friends). Were Rainbow Rowell’s parents hippies? Is it a pen name? Is it a name she chose herself? In the end, I decided it didn’t matter very much. John Green wrote: “Eleanor & Park reminded me not just what it’s like to be young and in love with a girl, but also what it’s like to be young and in love with a book.” That was good enough for me.
And oh, what a book! This is the kind of teen fiction that I would have devoured at 17, and at 27, I have to admit that I was still completely and utterly captivated by it. The feelings are so strong, the romance is so vivid, and if it’s at all possible, this book has a brilliant, moving, pulsing soundtrack that comes from being set in the ’80s where the main characters listen to a Walkman on the bus out of a shared set of headphones. There’s lots of swearing in it too, which is realistic if you grow up in a poorer area of a big city like Eleanor and Park do (I would have felt vaguely guilty enjoying the swearing so much as a teenager – this is something that you grow into, I guess).
There are unexpected twists and turns, beauty, love, euphoria, sadness and a grand rescue. It’s the stuff teenage dreams are made of, and possibly grown-up dreams too. I thought Eleanor & Park was so fantastic that I stayed up late and read it all in one sitting. I laughed out loud, cried buckets, bought a black eyeliner and spent about $20 on iTunes because of this book. It’s brilliant. I think you should read it too.