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