Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
(St. Martin's Press, 2013)
Format: so many formats. I used an Audible credit (narrated by Rebecca Lowman & Sunil Malhotra), then I bought it in paper. That's right: paid for it twice. (Three times if you include the one I bought as a gift.) Cause why? Cause I love it, that's why. Also because she signed this awesome book plate for me, and I had to have something to put it in, right?
From Goodreads: "Bono met his wife in high school," Park says.
"So did Jerry Lee Lewis," Eleanor answers.
"I’m not kidding," he says.
"You should be," she says, "we’re sixteen."
"What about Romeo and Juliet?"
"Shallow, confused, then dead."
''I love you," Park says.
"Wherefore art thou," Eleanor answers.
"I’m not kidding," he says.
"You should be."
Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK 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.
So, look. I told you last year to read Rowell's first novel, Attachments. Remember? When I said it was super funny and right and that she knew people inside out? Well, turns out that wasn't a fluke. Because now we have Eleanor, who is permanently lodged in my heart, and Park, who, dude. Just send me back to 1986; I was a sophomore in high school then, too. I'd totally have fought Eleanor for him.(Well, I wouldn't have. I was too introverted. Unlike now, clearly. Hello, all you dear friends who I talk at but not face-to-face, thanks for stopping by.) I'd have watched them and been jealous, though. Because Eleanor & Park together - oh, so right. Even when they're breaking my heart because the world is a sucky place sometimes, they're oh, so right. Heartbreakingly right.
(I'm a little broken by this book.)
Also in this book: music, comic books, too many kids sharing one measly room, the politics of who sits where on the school bus, excruciating gym clothes, more music, the difficulty in affording batteries for your soul-saving walkman when you're very poor, veterans as parents, an Impala, and Shakespeare. Every bit of it as glorious as the last bit.
My oldest kid & I listened to the audio while we did our spring break college visit road trip. Here's me: let's hit the road! Time to put on E&P! Here's him: wait, where's the pause button? I just have to find this song they're talking about. Cue me, pretending to care about whatever, lyrics, rhythm, yeah sure, but not-so-secretly impatient to get back to the text. (I'm not nearly as musical a person as - well, anyone else in my family.) (Did you know some people use their time in the car to listen to music instead of audiobooks? Weird, right?) Lowman was the bomb - she could make me tear up with, like, half a syllable (hello, strange hilly dark Virginian roads! You don't need me to see as I navigate you, do you?) - I'm thinking she was absorbed in the story as I was, and she very beautifully accessed Eleanor's agonies and ecstacies. I also enjoyed the other character voices she used. Malhotra was a lovely Park, wry and shy and able to make me cry. My son in particular was put off by his voice for Park's mom, which was pretty extremely accented for a woman who'd been in the U.S. for twenty or so years. Other than that, I'm all about this audio - the pacing and production were great. Oh, wait, one more thing - I do agree with my son that it would've been great if they'd been able to include some of the music E&P shared during the audiobook. But Rowell made a playlist page on her site, so you can listen along, too, even if you go for the print version of this super A+ I'll be raving about it for years book. (Mom, I'll loan you one of my copies.)