I was recently blown away by a book. And I do not say this lightly. As a librarian, you might guess that I read my fair share of books. And among those books there is quite often a dud or two, a book with which I just don’t connect. And then, very rarely, there is one that I literally have the inclination to stop random people at the grocery store or in line at the post office and brow beat them into reading it. I have half a mind to buy several copies and just start handing them out. Because anyone who was once a teenager should read this book. Anyone who has ever been in love or believes love exists should read this book.
The book is Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (even the author’s name is great). It’s 1986. Eleanor has red hair and is built like “she runs a medieval pub.” On her first bus ride to a new school, she ends up sitting by Park, a half-Korean boy who is quiet and well-liked but not really popular. They soon bond over a shared love of punk music and comic books. But, as in every great love story, the world conspires against the star-crossed duo. Eleanor is unpopular, disliked and misunderstood by the majority of her grade. And her stepfather, Richie, doesn’t harbor any love for her, either. Her home life is cramped and dangerous, and there is no way Richie would ever consent to her having a boyfriend. But Eleanor and Park are drawn to one another: “You think that holding someone hard will bring them closer. You think that you can hold them so hard that you’ll still feel them, embossed on you, when you pull away.” “And then there’s this one, which I absolutely love: “For the first time in weeks, Park didn’t have that anxious feeling in his stomach on the way home from school, like he had to soak up enough of Eleanor to keep him until the next day.” Can’t you just hear the exquisite longing in those words? Soon the two start spending a lot of time at Park’s house, with Eleanor lying to her family about where she’s been. You, as the reader, know that the status quo can’t last forever, that things will eventually come to a head and the truth will out. So you find yourself racing through the pages to the end to see what becomes of them.
Be sure to check out this new book, and any one of the whole host of new books we’ve recently added to the collection. Our new book shelf is bursting with books, so we’re sure to have something to help you while away the summer hours!