I am super not qualified to objectively talk about this book in even a pseudo opinions-are-never-really-objective way.
I have zero distance from this thing. I am in it, it’s all up in my grill, welcome to patient 0/the point of impact. Have a nice day.
But I really want you to know about Eleanor & Park. I really want the world to know about it. I need everyone to read it.
It gutted me like a fish.
I love it.
Read Eleanor & Park. It’s a modern (80’s modern) Romeo and Juliet (sans suicide/friars), and it’s practical and honest and goshdarned insightful about race relations, romance, young adulthood, gender, and humans in a totally pretension-free, sometimes funny, mostly endearing and heartbreaking way.
I know I say I love things a lot and that I always protest “but this one is really something special etc etc etc,” …
This one is a book that I needed in high school and didn’t get. This is one that genuinely feels like it reached through time and space and mundane near-miss circumstance to find me.
Because I still need(ed) it.
This book will never impress anyone as particularly intellectual. “Oh, you’ve read Eleanor & Park? My, well aren’t we just radiating literati cred out of our more-well-read-than-thou patoot?” That sentence will never happen. I know that. I’m not trying to pretend it will.
Despite that, Eleanor & Park is now on my desert island list.
It will be a book I’ll reach for when I wake up from a nightmare and don’t know what to do with myself. It will be a book I quote and that I will shove at people, and that people who profess love/care for me may be forced to take in as required reading. It’ll be a book I will wear down to death and half memorize and write and draw in the margins of. When people flip through my copy, they will think, “Dang. So this is what an über lame serial killer’s notebook looks like. Note to self: escape, now.” Because when I was reading this thing (in one day, less than five hours, and even then only stopping for necessary bodily functions and emergencies), it was like having a conversation with a best friend who knew me better than I knew myself, like having a conversation with a better version of myself. It touched every issue and button I’ve squirreled away that makes me fold right up into an insane mess of a pretzel-person—and as a select few will tell you, that’s a heck of a sight to behold.
And that is why I cannot even pretend to objectively analyze Eleanor & Park.
I can say this: I know, intellectually, in a detached way, that it is not a perfect book. There are some Dramatic bits and some Corny-As-All-Get-Out-Bits and even a very few cliché bits. But I also know that even people without Issues (or safe from my specific issues) will recognize that it’s gorgeous and wrenching—might need it, could love it.
Eleanor & Park; I recommend the hell out of it.