A True Love Story: Eleanor & Park

Terrific novel by Rainbow Rowell

I hate to even mention 50 Shades of something. The media seems to find the movie premiere so titillating. Television, radio and newspapers are falling over themselves to find some way to titter over the movie and its tie ins. I have no plan to see the movie, even though I read the books at the suggestion of a friend who called the trilogy a story of redemption. When you read you can tone down your mental images of the racier parts of the story, but with a movie you are captive to one interpretation. Sometimes, as with Harry Potter film adaptations, the movies match or exceed expectations for bringing the fantasy to life. In the case of 50 Shades the reviews (including one from a friend) it seems that the fantasy is more nightmare.

Meanwhile I just devoured a novel, Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell. This novel illuminates the process of falling in real love. It is not categorized as Young Adult fiction, though when you buy it Amazon suggests you may also like books by John Green (best known for The Fault in Our Stars) whose books are generally found on Young Adult fiction shelves. The main characters Park and Eleanor are teenagers. The novel captures the emotions and thrill of first love. I like how the author has the characters study Romeo and Juliet in English class so she can contrast the superficial love between Shakespeare's young lovers with the deeper soul connection between Park and Eleanor. I could not help but contrast it with the twisted love in 50 Shades.

I also like how Rainbow Rowell portrays domestic violence and the vulnerability of children after divorce without becoming too graphic. When a mystery solves a murder without the gruesome CSI type details and with a focus on relationships it is called a "cozy" in the publishing world. Eleanor & Park is the cozy equivalent in adult fiction.

I finished the book yesterday and I still find myself thinking about the structure of the novel, the themes and the story. Eleanor & Park is wonderful and if you want to read about real romance in a story with substance, I recommend you read this book.