Day 27 – Eleanor & Park

21 Jul

Last Wednesday my good friend Joanie and I met for coffee because our pre-ordered copies of Deborah Harkness’s The Book of Life wpid-20140716_092139.jpgcame in. This is the first time I ever remember pre-ordering a book and waiting with excitement for a release date. Back in February she bought tickets for us to go to the school’s production of Fame and I bought/pre-ordered the books. When I woke up on Wednesday morning and came downstairs to the Amazon box on the kitchen counter, I messaged her. I sent her the photo with the caption. “Want to meet for coffee today?” Like I needed to ask!

The Book of Life is the third in her riveting trilogy and most of our book club members love, love, love it! In fact, we’ve decided that we won’t meeting in August and we’re extending our next meeting. Usually the person hosting our book club picks the book for that month. The Book of Life was everyone’s pick, so we’re meeting at a restaurant on September 6th to discuss it. So, when I met with Joanie, to hand off her copy, I shared my dilemma. I had just started reading Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park. I was liking it, but come on, this was THE book we have eleanor and parkbeen waiting for. Now, I have to admit, even though I teach high school English AND have a masters in Literacy Education, I am a slow reader. Following Joanie’s advice, I did keep reading Eleanor & Park and I finished it today. I’m glad I did.

I have a difficult time writing book reviews because I find it difficult to say what I like about it without giving too much away. So what I’ve decided to do is write a list of the top ten things I LOVE about this book without getting too much into the plot.

  1. Eleanor is such a strong young woman. I’m thrilled to read about a protagonist that comes from poverty and despair. Even though most of my students don’t have it as bad as Eleanor does, I know there are parts of her life to which they’ll be able to relate.
  2. The setting is in 1986 Omaha. So many things about it take me back to my own adolescence, not least of all the art of the mixed tape.
  3. Mr. Stessman, Eleanor’s English teacher, is awesome. He works the room and makes Eleanor embarrassed for him, a man after my own heart. I’ll use part of chapter five in my own classroom.
  4. Park’s mom is perfect. I love how I can hear her accent on the page and how she and Park’s dad challenge and love each other.
  5. Eleanor and Park are the unlikeliest of couples and that’s what makes their relationship so special.
  6. I love how the story is constantly changing point-of-view, back and forth between Eleanor and Park. Both characters are unique and well-developed. I love how you can see how they’re both self-conscious.
  7. When I finished reading I wondered when the movie will be made. Then I googled it, the movie is a thing that looks like it is going happening.
  8. I loved all of the pop culture references, music, movies and television.
  9. I like how both families spend time together in the living room watching tv on the only television the family owns. I think my kids would love to do this. As if.
  10. Although the ending wasn’t one that I was hoping for, I do believe the author knows best. My ending would have been a disaster and she concluded their story in the most authentic way possible.

I’m going to recommend Eleanor & Park to my students, but I would recommend it to anyone under 45 as well. John Green, author of The Fault in our Stars, says that “Eleanor & Park reminded me not just what it’s like to be young and in love with a girl, but also what it’s like to be young and in love with a book.”

Now on to The Book of Life. Man I love summer!

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