Reading Level: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Length: 8 hours and 56 minutes (336 pages)
Publisher: Listening Library
Release Date: February 26, 2013
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: Audibook from Audible.com
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
“Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits-smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love-and just how hard it pulled you under.”
This was an engaging read and I enjoyed it a lot. I wish the end had more closure though. I understand that the abstractness of the end is made to reflect the style of the story; it still kind of pissed me off with its incompleteness.
I listened to this on audiobook. The narrators did a wonderful job narrating. This is a book that I would highly recommend listening to on audiobook if you listen to audiobooks. I think it was probably better as an audiobook than it would be as a paper book.
Having grown up in the 80’s I really enjoyed the 80’s references throughout. I know this is dubbed as a love story; but there is also a lot in this story about abuse at home and bullying.
Eleanor has a pretty awful life right now. Her stepfather is abusive to her whole family and the fact that the kids at school decide to make her life miserable on top of all of this just broke my heart. She is strong in her own right and I am glad she fought to do what she could to keep herself sane and safe.
Eleanor faces a lot of tough decisions throughout the book and is constantly living in fear. I wish that she had felt more comfortable seeking help from her counselor or another adult; however I do understand that she really didn’t have any reason to trust adults. I hated that she was having to daily make choices between keeping herself safe and helping her siblings…that’s a horrible place to be.
I hated Eleanor’s mom for her weakness. I will never understand how women like Eleanor’s mom justify their decisions. Eleanor’s mom isn’t a bad person, she is not actively mean…she is just passive. She allows her husband to hurt her and her kids. Once in awhile there is a glimmer of rebellion when she tries to quietly stand up for one of her kids. Being a mother myself I will never understand women who willingly put themselves in a position where their kids don’t feel safe at home.
Park has his own issues but they pale compared to Eleanor’s. Seeing the contrast between the two characters was interesting. Park kind of struggled to understand Eleanor’s life and also struggled with how to help her. Park is in the middle of trying to accept his own differences and embracing who he is and Eleanor helps him do that.
I also thought Eleanor’s anger was portrayed well. Eleanor is angry at everything, but Park doesn’t know how to interpret this anger because their relationship is so new. It is a sweet relationship and does remind of the first time you fell in love with a boy/girl.
The only thing I really did not like about this book (I hated this enough to knock off half a star) was the lack of closure. I understand this is an artistic choice that Rowell made. However, I think it’s also a bit of a cope out. I mean come on; you get your readers all attached to these characters and then the story just stops. No closure, you don’t know where anyone ends up. It sucked bigtime. If this was the first book in a series I would be okay with that…but this is a stand alone and that was a sucky way to end this book.
Overall a very well written book that explores abuse, bullying, and love. This is an excellent coming of age story and I loved all the 80’s references. Generally I would recommend…unless you hate stories without closure. If you like closure to your stories I would skip this book; it’s just sooo frustrating that there’s no closure here.