Eleanor and Park
I find my relationship with young adult fiction has its ups and downs, but every time I start to think : "I'm really too old for this sort of thing now" - a book does come along which proves that no matter how old you are or which target market the publisher is aiming at, if a book is something special then it doesn't matter what section of the book shop they sell it in, it will still resonate.
Eleanor is a new girl, overweight and badly dressed, with wild ginger hair, no-one wants to let her sit with them on the bus. Park isn't so popular either, but people respect him and he's always flown under the radar of the bullies - and when Eleanor is left standing in the aisle Park takes pity on her, and from there - a genuinely lovely and touching romance emerges.
Though the novel is a dual narrative which tells its tale from both their perspectives, I found that for me this book was just all about Eleanor. Her story consistently has this darkness to it as her love for Park is overshadowed by her sinister stepfather, the failings of her biological parents and the tragic poverty she lives in. It really does often feel like Park is her only light in an otherwise dark world.
I found that towards the end when I had about 80 pages left to go that I was in this constant state of anxiety over Eleanor utterly convinced that something terrible was going to happen to her and feeling powerless to stop it.
And then I reminded myself that I was feeling intense anxiety for A FICTIONAL CHARACTER.
That is how good this book is. How it effects you inside.
It ends on something of a cliffhanger and I was vexed, and I genuinely tweeted the author with BUT WHAT HAPPENED AFTER??? angst - she didn't reply, she's probably used to this sort of thing by now, though probably not from women approaching 33.
It's an unlikely choice from me but I think Eleanor and Park is my favourite book so far this year. It made me feel. I felt like its characters were real and I didn't want it to end.
It was nice to see a novel were the romantic female lead did not fit traditional stereotypes about image. Also, I need a sequel to this book and I needed it pretty much the second I finished it, I surely can't be alone in this.
Lovely : 10/10