Friday, January 31, 2014

Eleanor & Park

I'd heard a lot of good things about Eleanor & Park, but I'll admit I was a little skeptical about it. The minute I saw the word "punk" on the cover, I thought it was going to be one of those "cooler-than-thou" books. You know, lots of name dropping of bands no one knows and talk about how cool someone dresses. It was my main complaint about The Time Traveler's Wife. While there was a *little* bit of that in Eleanor & Park, it didn't bother me.
I was also afraid this was going to be another one of those YA romances where the whole plot is, "OMG, I like him, does he like me?" That was my main complaint with Anna & the French Kiss. Nothing else happened. But Eleanor & Park didn't feel that way to me. I've been asking myself if I feel differently about Eleanor & Park than Anna & the French Kiss because the kids in Anna are rich and the kids in Eleanor & Park are not, but I think it goes much deeper than that. Eleanor & Park's romance is intense, and it feels like the real deal. It doesn't feel like a bunch of fussing over something that's going to last 15 minutes. I like how Rainbow Rowell alternates viewpoints between the two of them. It takes the, "OMG, I like him, does he like me?" part out of the equation because you already know. She takes you inside each of their heads and shows, very realistically, I think, how love happens very gradually. This isn't "OMG, she's so hawwwt!!11" They both have their doubts about where this will lead, but they can't help themselves.
I also really liked how Rowell takes some characters that look stereotypical and at first (Park's parents, Tina and Steve), and gives them depth. I was a little confused toward the end about one of those character's actions, but I loved it that what Eleanor & Park thought about her through the whole book ended up being not true. Rowell does a great job of showing how people's perceptions of what another person is thinking or feeling often turns out to be false.
Overall, I have very few complaints about Eleanor & Park. It wasn't perfect, but it was lovely...a lot like Eleanor & Park's love for one another. I now want to read everything else that Rainbow Rowell has written.

I also read One and Only: The Freedom of Having an Only Child and the Joy of Being One by Lauren Sandler. While I did get some good stuff out of it, I was a little disappointed. It gave me some of the answers I was looking for, but in the end all it told me was what I already know: each family should do what's right for them, whether it's number of children or breastfeeding or having one parent stay at home or both parents working. No matter what size of family you decide to have, whether it's 0 kids or 10, someone is going to have a problem with it. Those people are dumb and should keep their mouths shut, but they never will. 
Sandler seems to want to make "her way" the only "right way," and I don't really agree with that. When you start passing judgment on other people's choices to justify your own, you've got a problem. She seems to cherry-pick to find the answers she's looking for, throwing out data when it's convenient and making a big deal out of it when it's convenient. 
I'm still undecided about whether I want a second child, and One and Only didn't do a lot to help me make that decision. I need to learn to stay away from these kinds of books, because they don't really do much for me.
Up next for me are Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement and The Fate of Mercy Alban.

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