A few weeks ago I read Fangirl. When I finished it, I knew it would only be a matter of time until I read Eleanor & Park too.
Once I get an idea like that into my head, it’s not going to be very long until I make it happen. I’m not really one for delayed gratification.
Eleanor & Park is completely different from Fangirl. I think I liked Fangirl better but Eleanor & Park is till pretty awesome.
The major difference is that Fangirl comes to us complete with 21st century complications: texting and fan fiction and emails and constant connectivity, even for someone hiding from real life. Eleanor & Park takes us back to 1986 where some people (in this case Eleanor) didn’t even have a home phone. The book becomes much more about the relationship face-to-face (awkward) rather than all the distractions we’ve all become so used to.
Eleanor is the new girl on the bus and she has nowhere to sit. She’s wearing men’s clothes with all sorts of things pinned to them and has bright red hair. She’s an easy target so Park urges her to sit down beside him. Every day they ride the bus together and neither of them says a word. Park notices that she reads his comics with him so he starts waiting for her to read them at the same time. Then he brings her comics to take home with her. She reads each of them several times, careful to return them to him in perfect condition.
And slowly but surely their unlikely relationship takes off. They come from very different worlds: Park lives in a typical family home with his parents, who love each other, and his little brother; Eleanor has just returned home which is a room shared with her four brothers and sisters and a stepdad who is quick to anger.
I have to say that I really appreciated the fact that the romance between these two is so off. Not only do they come from very different backgrounds, but neither of them are the popular kids at school. This isn’t a Bella and Edward thing where one of them can’t believe they could be with someone so cool. Each of them marvels at the fact that they like this other person so much and didn’t see it right away. They are both living in their own heads, with their own insecurities about their bodies, their friends and their families. They are trying to figure out who they are while they navigate the torture chamber that is highschool and make this whole relationship thing work out.
The thing that everyone says about Eleanor & Park is that Rainbow Rowell didn’t chicken out with the ending. The story happens over the course of one school year between a pair of 16 year olds. Most relationships at that age don’t work out. I’m not certain that the ending is as cut and dried as everyone made it out to be though. But life is never black and white either and Rowell once again expertly crafts a true to life relationship that feels authentic but not forced.
On a somewhat related note, my sister (who made me read The Fault in Our Stars) read Me Before You on my recommendation this week. She had some pretty choice words for me when she finished it as she felt I didn’t adequately prepare her for the ending. I feel like now we’re even for that whole Augustus Waters thing!
20 thoughts on “YA Fiction is becoming a thing I read”
I’ve been reading a lot more YA since I started blogging too! I recently read To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and it was adorable. I liked it better than Fangirl because I actually didn’t really like Cath and Levi’s romance (I know I’m in the minority here). Which YA book do you think you’ll read next?
The romance between Cath and Levi wasn’t super realistic- it definitely wasn’t balanced. But I was wiling to move on because I enjoyed the rest of the story SO much. I have no idea what YA book I’ll read next! What should I read?
Yeah, and for some reason it really bothered me when Levi called Cath “sweetheart”… but that’s probably just me 😛 I LOVED the family plotline though! I wish we found out what happened with the girls and their mom.
Have you read We Were Liars yet? I haven’t read it but I’ve heard really good things about it!
Funny, I really dislike “sweetheart” too – it seems diminishing somehow! The family plot was gold – more of that would have been great.
I haven’t read that! I will have to look out for it!
I’m still hesitant of the whole YA thing, but I must admit i’m toying with the idea of reading Rainbow Rowell. Especially Fangirl.
Start with Rainbow Rowell for sure. As YA fiction has become more common the quality of the books available has gone up. I’d be interested to hear what you think if and when you finally take the plunge!
Fangirl is a good read, I recently reviewed, but I think Eleanor and Park sounds better 🙂 Was considering getting it – I might now I’ve read your post! 😀 YA is really growing and not just for teens (like me) – I think its because so many people can relate to the modern references within them. Anyways really good post!
Thanks for the comment! I think you’re right about it growing not just for teens. YA Fiction is a lot more emotional and I think that connects for people. Whether it’s something they feel right now or felt when they were teenagers, this genre is really striking a nerve with readers!
I guess I’d better read Fangirl, huh? Although I do think 1986 resonated with me on a very personal level.
You must read Fangirl!
Having been on the YA bus for many years now, its currently popularity has been a good thing in that the quality has certainly gone up, and less good thing in that when publishers decide something is popular they publish a poop ton of it and not all of it is that good 🙂
I need to read Fangirl – I am a fangirl, so I think this one would resonate more with me. If I were to start with YA, I’d go with a John Green book, or if you’re into fantasy-ish stuff, Kristin Cashore is great, oh and I LOVED Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe…okay, I must stop now. 🙂 -Tania
I’ve been super reluctant to crawl onto the bandwagon myself. My sister keeps telling me to read more John Green. I don’t know if I have it in me after the whole Fault In Our Stars thing. What a mess.
It is kind of annoying when you love a genre and tell people it’s great and no one believes you and suddenly it becomes a thing and everyone is telling you how great it is. Bookish problems.
I’m okay with Bookish problems 🙂
Green’s other books are not tear jerkers. Not at all, really. TFIOS is an anomaly.
It’s funny, I should actually do a complimentary post on how Adult fiction is becoming a thing I read. Being a children’s bookseller, I wasn’t able to read as much adult fiction as I wanted to for 8 years of my life (had to keep up with the kids’ stuff). The adult fiction has been a nice change this past year 🙂 – Tania
You should totally do that! I want to read that!
Adult fiction would be a nice change after that. It’s good that there is so much good stuff out there now. I was seriously distraught when I was 11 or 12 thinking that I’d almost read all the children’s books available. I would have devoured YA fiction had it been as widely available. I have to say though, that every once in a while, I regress and read Mary Poppins or Anne of Green Gables or A Little Princess. Wouldn’t mind visiting Anastasia Krupnik again…and there’s that whole Harry Potter thing…GAH! I don’t have time for working!
How did I miss this post? I’ll be reading this in the summer! Good review! (I’ll also be reading Me Before You!)
Life probably got in the way! This is a crazy time of year for you! At least you have some quality reading time in your future – can’t wait to hear what you think of both those books!
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