Tuesday, January 27, 2015


When I finished reading Eleanor & Park  all I felt was heartbroken. My heart was breaking for Eleanor, who had to make the difficult (but brave) decision to endure a tremendous amount of pain by losing two of the things most precious to her; her family and Park. On top of that, she had to make the choice that would ultimately hurt the one she loved. Which led to my heart breaking for Park. Selfishly, my own heart was breaking because I did not want my relationship with the characters and books to end. By the end of the story, there were a whole lot of tears and tissues.

Not only did I fall in love with the characters and their story, but I fell in love with Rainbow Rowell's narrative technique and writing style. Written in third person (omniscient), Rowell lets us jump back and forth between the narrator's who are well in tuned to Eleanor and Park's experiences. In the beginning, they each get longer sections to share their part of the story. But as they begin to get to know each other better, the narratives swap more frequently. I think that this is a great way to reflect how the two character's are coming together. It lets the reader into the world that Eleanor and Park live in while providing us with the emotions, thoughts, and opinions of each other that they experience as they fall in love.

One thing that struck me about this alternation point-of-view was being able to see how Eleanor viewed herself versus how Park saw her. In Eleanor's point-of-view, she refers to herself as fat, ugly, and having terrible hair. I think this is important because every teenager feels this way at some point or another. But what's really remarkable is that while reading from Park's point-of-view, he never once uses these negative words to describe Eleanor. Although he admits that she looks weird or different, he describes her as pretty, beautiful, and cute.

Rowell's careful crafting of the narrative structure allowed her to share a subtle but very important message about self-image. Eleanor and Park both suffer from a lack of self-confidence, issues with body image and social status, and the nagging question every teenager faces, "Do I fit in?" This is something I could relate to, as I felt the same way throughout high school. It makes me think about some of the people in my high school graduating class. It makes me wonder how many of them felt the same exact way and if we had known that at the time, would we have been a little kinder to each other? Thinking about the answer to that question leaves me feeling one way. Heartbroken.

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