Goodreads): Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.
And here's what I thought: A friend of mine at work mentioned Rainbow Rowell and how awesome she was .... and now I know this to be true.
I absolutely LOVED this book. And once I picked it up, I didn't want to put it down -- which meant that I stayed up way too late one night to finish it. And then, when I was finished, I just wanted more.
I really liked how the author wrote both characters, and how realistic, and different, that they were. I also really liked how you get the viewpoints from both of them. The way that the two of them feel about each other, and how that changes through the story was so well written, that it felt completely natural. The ups and downs that they go through also seemed very realistic. There wasn't a moment where I thought, oh no, school wouldn't be like that, or that character is unrealistic -- and this was with all of the characters. I wound up really caring about both of them, but especially Eleanor, who I worried about the whole way through the book. I just wanted to scoop her up, and take her away from her family. To have that kind of emotional reaction to a book is pretty rare --- and I really liked that I got that caught up in it. This is a love story that you can appreciate even if you've never met someone like Eleanor or Park. You don't have to be a teenager to enjoy it, either --- this is one of those timeless-seeming stories that I think would appeal to many readers.
I will admit, I was a freshman in high school in 1986 (so yes, now you can figure out about how old I am), and while I wasn't listening to all of the music mentioned in this book, I was listening to some of it then, and then in the years following high school. So, reading about Morrissey, and The Smiths, and Skinny Puppy, and all the other music made me want to go through my CDs and my iTunes and just listen. I'm sure there are playlists out there that people have made in response to this book, but here are some of the songs on my list (which aren't limited to just 1986):
Dear God by XTC
There is a Light that Never Goes Out by The Smiths
Cities in Dust by Siouxsie and the Banshees
A Strange Kind of Love by Peter Murphy
Assimilate by Skinny Puppy
I'll Fall With Your Knife by Peter Murphy
Pictures of You by The Cure
Walking in My Shoes by Depeche Mode
Light by KMFDM
Asleep by The Smiths
Kinda I Want to by Nine Inch Nails
Thieves by Ministry
Hole in the Ground by Sister Machine Gun
Marian by Sisters of Mercy
First lines: XTC was no good for drowning out the morons at the back of the bus. Park pressed his headphones into his ears. Tomorrow he was going to bring Skinny Puppy or the Misfits. Or maybe he'd make a special bus tape with as much screaming and wailing on it as possible.