Eleanor & Park: THAT book for me

Eleanor & Park

Below is the review I posted on Goodreads, right after I finished reading Eleanor & Park.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was so afraid to finish this book. And then I had to cry when I had. For those of us who never fit in. No other words.

At the time, I had no words. But something magical happened, which often doesn’t when I’ve read books which deeply move me – I found some words.

I didn’t encounter many of the extremes that Eleanor experienced. But being inside this book so fully brought my own experiences back.

I was “that” kid, the one from the hippy household in deeply conservative rural Vermont in 1969. The new kid. Skinny. Glasses. Awkward. Smart. And, I guess, either crazy, or crazily determined not to be lost.

I could have survived by flying under the radar. Could have kept my mouth shut. Refused to raise my hand. But that was not me. They shoved me, choked me with the trailing end of the handwoven scarf I wore as I ran from them. They teased me. For my funny glasses. For my funny clothes.  For being smart. They found ways to make me feel small, to push my buttons.

So what did I do?

I used a whole roll of cotton batting from my Dad’s medical bag to make a Gandalf beard for my in-character book report, which I delivered standing on a chair in front of the class. I kept on giving in-character book reports all year long.

I kept on drawing dreamy, hopeful pictures while our 4th grade teacher read aloud.

I kept on raising my hand, drawing attention to my ideas, my thoughts.

I kept on winning spelling bees, my treasured prizes books which I still have.

I kept on dressing for school in my own rag bag way, sometimes wishing my clothes would help me fit in but knowing, even then, that I could never hide ME behind a garment.

And maybe, just maybe, that’s why it hit me so hard, this book. Because Eleanor, courageous beautiful Eleanor, showed me that I was not alone.

I didn’t intend to review this book today. I have a checklist, after all. And I find it hard to review books which deeply move me, after all. For once, I found some words.

A few other books which have moved me:

Liar and Spy, by Rebecca Stead

The Real Boy, by Anne Ursu

The Pull of Gravity, by Gae Polsner

See You at Harry’s, by Jo Knowles.

What books moved you?

View all my reviews

About vst3in

I am a writer, avid reader, library techie, birder and runner. I make felt and teach others. I love colors and textures and birds and books. I'm working on a historical novel and reading lots of books for young people. I am running to get stronger, and I sail with my husband. This blog contains thoughts about all these things.
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2 Responses to Eleanor & Park: THAT book for me

  1. Valerie, this a beautiful post. Eleanor & Park was my favorite YA book of the year (and maybe my favorite BOOK of the year, period – I have to think about that). You captured why perfectly. I also loved your list at the end – all were moving books to me, too. Have you read Counting By 7s? That was another one this year that I loved. Every Day After and Beholding Bee, too. Those are my 2013 favs. I can’t even fathom looking back over all the years to say which ones moved me. We’ll just go with this year for now. 😉

    • vst3in says:

      Love that you have to confine it to one year. I know. So, so many books have moved me, transformed me in my life. I have Counting by 7s and Beholding Bee on my list, and now I’ll add Every Day after as well. Thanks for sharing yours for this year.

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