Okay, I promise I’m not usually this sappy, but this week’s blog post also has a love theme. Not due to the recent passing of Valentine’s Day but because I just finished Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. Rarely do I read teen books where love/romance/the relationship is the focus of the novel, so I wanted to share my review of this totally awesome book and some other YA gems that focus on the almighty power of love.
Eleanor & Park – Rainbow Rowell
This book is all about love, and I completely loved it! Eleanor and Park are misfits and one would never imagine that they would connect. But that’s what this book is about: their love story and their love connection. On Eleanor's first day in a new school, Park sees her struggling to find a seat on the bus and angrily tells her to sit next to him. Its weeks before they talk and months before they acknowledge their relationship, but we learn so much about Eleanor and Park through their getting to know each other. The descriptions, especially of their first time holding hands and their first kiss, are beautiful and fresh. There is some language throughout, but it reads as real and raw, not crass. As I read the last few pages, I welled up which quite unusual for me. I have to admit (without spoiling it) that I was crying for Eleanor and Park. Their love is a rare, pure gem and the story drew me in so much that I didn’t want to let go. So I did the next best thing: tracked down a copy of Rainbow Rowell’s Attachments. She’s just that good!
Boy Meets Boy – David Levithan
The title pretty much tells the gist of the story, and lets the reader know that this is ground-breaking territory. The main character, Paul is gay and has known since a very young age. He’s been in relationships before but this book is about the relationship. Paul’s voice is clear and individual, and I very much related to him. Levithan does a great job drawing the reader into this super-unique high school with its complicated map of relationships and diverse cast of characters. Each character is intriguing and quirkiness abounds in their traits. One of the best things about this book is that it’s a traditional love story with an ultra-new, ahead-of-the-curve twist in that it’s about two boys. I adored it and plan to dive into more of Levithan’s novels soon.
Forever… – Judy Blume
High school seniors Katherine and Michael (and their love) are not the point of this story—their experiences are. They meet, start “going together” and eventually have sex. This book was revolutionary in exploring sex for teens and the consequences, both when it was published in the 70s and today. Within the space of the novel, a character gets pregnant, another is suicidal and Katherine visits Planned Parenthood so she can go on the pill to avoid pregnancy. Blume candidly makes the point that when you’re young, love seems like it will last forever. However, also when you’re young, you are naïve and still growing, therefore you don’t realize that who you love will likely change and that nothing lasts forever.
Hope you enjoyed these love-centric reviews! Eleanor & Park will be on the shelves this Tuesday—I highly recommend it!