Hardcover, 325 pages
Published February 26th 2013 by St. Martin’s Press
Eleanor…Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough..Eleanor.
Park… He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she even gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises…Park.
Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year olds- smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.
Her name made me pick up the book but the irreplaceable story of first love in the 80s made me keep reading. I’d never heard of her before, but I can guarantee you after this book, I will consume every single one one of her others. There are all kinds of books. Some you glace over, some you speed read, some are boring and can take half a year to actually finish. Some you breathe like air, some become a part of you. This book becomes a part of you. You pick it up expecting something sweet and utterly adorable. You get that and so much more. You get heartbreak, compassion, and love. This book is making me question if I even knew what love was before this.
This is a story of true love like no other. Two misfits, two hearts, one world.
“I miss you, Eleanor. I want to be with you all the time. You’re the smartest girl I’ve ever met, and the funniest, and everything you do surprises me. And I wish I could say that those are the reasons I like you, because that would make me sound like a really evolved human being …‘But I think it’s got as much to do with your hair being red and your hands being soft … and the fact that you smell like homemade birthday cake”
Eleanor has been through it all. Pain and disappointment are her bible. Rejected by her father, kicked out of the house my her stepfather, siblings who don’t know what side they’re on and no one to call a friend. She is completely and entirely alone. Alone and confused. She knows who she is. She knows what she wants. She’s confused as to why the world seems to mock her. She hides behind over-sized clothes. Hides. She doesn’t hide. She puts on a brave face for the world to see, holds her head high and uses her clothes as a mirror to bounce off the insults and cruel names that high schoolers are known well for. The first day of the school is the worst. She just came back from her mother’s friend’s house after getting kicked out for what was supposed to be a week, but ended up being over a year. On the bus filled with demon-students, among the crowd, is Park.
Forever. Eleanor has never had that. Park and her fall in love in the most heart wrenching of ways. They really are star-crossed. In the world where first love rarely last, they have the hear to try. Love is the one word that she cannot say and the one Park is all too eager to say. Nothing about them is sugar canes and gum drops. They have their issues; discovering who they are as individuals, together, what love really is, what forever means.
“I don’t like you, Park,” she said, sounding for a second like she actually meant it. “I…” – her voice nearly disappeared – “think I live for you.”
He closed his eyes and pressed his head back into his pillow.
“I don’t think I even breathe when we’re not together,” she whispered. “Which means, when I see you on Monday morning, it’s been like sixty hours since I’ve taken a breath. That’s probably why I’m so crabby, and why I snap at you. All I do when we’re apart is think about you, and all I do when we’re together is panic. Because every second feels so important. And because I’m so out of control, I can’t help myself. I’m not even mine anymore, I’m yours, and what if you decide that you don’t want me? How could you want me like I want you?
He was quiet. He wanted everything she’d just said to be the last thing he heard. He wanted to fall asleep with ‘I want you’ in his ears.”
All the while, Park is dealing with finding himself and Eleanor with a difficult home life. Falling in love is never easy, it has pain wrapped in hope, but if you are brave enough to hold onto it and smart enough to keep it, life will take on new colors. And as Eleanor and Park discovered, none of the good stuff is easy. It’s up to them whether to keep their own slice of perfection or let it slip from their grasp.
This is a book about the amazingness of first love and how when everything falls apart you gotta hold on to each other. It’s a sexy, tender romance filled with comic books, U2 and true love. I’m going to have to agree with Ms. Gayle Forman: “Readers will swoon for Eleanor & Park”