Saturday, 21 November 2015

Anti Bully Reads: Eleanor & Park - spoiler free review.

Hi booklovers

Today is day 6 of the #AntiBullyReads readathon and this morning I was able to finish 'Eleanor and Park'.
I'm so happy that I chose to reread this book and it was just as good, if not better, the second time around.
I was also surprised about how much I had already forgotten :-(
Since I didn't have this blog yet when I read it the first time, I never wrote a review of it, so that's what I'm going to do right now.

This is a non-spoiler review, btw.

Title: Eleanor & Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Genre: YA contemporary
Publication date: 2012
Format: Paperback

*Story:
The book is about Eleanor, a 16-year old girl, who is totally different from your typical high school girl: Her clothes and hair both look crazy and all she wants is to be left alone. Unfortunately, having very red hair and wearing clothes that look different, means that she is stared at a lot. She is also the new kid at school and she has a very complicated family situation.
Then we have Park, a 16-year Asian boy, who hates taking the bus to school because all he wants is to be invisible. Unfortunately, he is regularly picked on by the popular kids.
On her first day Eleanor sits down on the bus next to Park and from there the story takes off.

*Characters:
-Eleanor: she is not your typical 16-year old girl. She looks different, she dresses in a 'weird' way and doesn't seem to care about what other people think of her. She gets picked on a lot by Tina and her gang. Eleanor comes from a broken home and she only recently moved back home with her mum and stepdad after he had kicked her out a year earlier.
From the first moment we meet Eleanor, we get sucked into her miserable family situation and I immediately felt bad for her. She lives in these very difficult conditions: she has to share her room with her brothers and sisters, there's no bathroom door, only a curtain, they sometimes don't have enough food, her stepdad is an alcoholic...
And yet, she still manages to keep going and be herself. At first, when she starts talking to Park, she doesn't want to tell him anything about her situation, but as the story progresses, she starts to trust him more and shares some things about her life.

-Park: being half Asian, he also gets picked on quite a lot at school. At first he seems like a bit of nerd - and maybe he is, with his comic books - but there is so much more to him than first meets the eye. He is sweet and sensitive and fascinated by Eleanor. He's also the kind of guy who doesn't really care about looks - at least not at the beginning of the book - or what Eleanor looks like, as long as he gets to be with her. We really see him grow throughout the story.

*Plot:
This book is set in the 80's and this makes the story even more special. I realise this might put some younger readers off, but since I grew up in the 80's it was quite nice to read about cassettes and walkmans :-)
The story revolves about being young, being different, attending high school and being in love. But it's not just a lovey dovy story. The reason I decided to pick this up for the #AntiBullyRead readathon is of course that it also deals with bullying. It's not just about bullying in school, but there are also other sorts of bullying involved. I'm not going to say more because I don't want to spoil you.
 
*Overall rating:
Just like the first time I read it, I gave this story 5 stars. It's heartwrenching and heartwarming at the same time. It's a story about acceptence and coming to terms with who you are and how people look at you. The story deals with bullying and the topic is handled really well. But above all it's a story about first love and how overwhelming and at the same sweet it can be. This book made me feel all the feels: I laughed at the funny parts, I swooned over their love and cried when things got sad (even though I knew what was coming)!

I've heard people say this story contains some major clich├ęs about being young, being bullied and being in love, but I don't agree.
I like how the story is divided into chapters and every chapter contains both Eleanors and Parks POV's. The different lengths of the POV's make for a fast paced story and a rollercoaster of emotions - especially the last part of the book is packed with emotions. The ending is a bit sudden, but also very fitting, I think. No wonder 'Eleanor & Park' was my second favourite read of 2014!

Lastly, I want to share one of my favourite quotes from this book:
Have you read this book? Are you curious to pick it up? Let me know in the comments.

And now on to my second read of the readathon, the first story in 'Auggie & me', the companion stories to Wonder.

Happy reading everyone!

Annelies

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