This book broke my heart over and over again. My heart broke for Eleanor, for Park, for Eleanor and Park. I was completely shattered. I was preparing myself to be totally destroyed by the ending, and then… and then came the last line of the book and I was lifted. I know Rowell was purposely vague and I am sure there are those who did not read the ending as positively as I did. But I am the eternal optimist, I’m hopeful, and I’m always searching for happy endings. So I am choosing to believe that those three words on the postcard were “I love you,” because if they weren’t, I would just simply be crushed.
I know other Bookly Clubbers disagree, but I adored this book. I felt so strongly for, related to, and identified with both Eleanor and Park on so many levels that I couldn’t help but love the story. I remember being a teenager, and even a young adult to a certain extent, and wondering how it was that so-and-so felt the way they did. I also remember, like Park, feeling simultaneously protective of the person you cared for, but also defensive of/embarrassed for your feelings – why must they be the way they are? I was unfortunately not always as noble as Park. I so admire his ability to stand by Eleanor, his feelings for her, and their relationship.
Rowell’s writing, her descriptive language, the dual perspectives that often overlapped to show just how in synch Eleanor and Park were, took me back and reminded me what new, young love feels like. That feeling of everything being so fresh, like nothing can come between you and life could never get better. That feeling of invincibility. I wish I
could go back in time and tell myself to savor it. Not because it gets worse, it doesn’t. It gets so much better! But simply because it’s a feeling unique to youthful love. I am in awe of Rowell’s ability to capture “this.”
She never felt like she belonged anywhere, except for when she was lying on her bed, pretending to be somewhere else.
At the same time, I also felt so deeply bad for Eleanor. My heart ached for her and hoped for her. For Eleanor to keep so much inside and to take on such a burden was what drew me to her and endeared her to me. I was glad to see her open up over the course of the book to Park and eventually to her uncle.
Rainbow Rowell, if you ever read this: thank you.