We all remember high school. We all remember what it was like to feel like no one understood us. Sometimes we still feel like that. But we also remember how it felt when a person came along who did “get” us – who didn’t require us to explain our jokes, music, or anything. They simply liked us for who we were and we liked them back and nothing else really seemed to matter because our heads were in a cloud of hearts and wonder and firecracker sparkles every time we thought about or saw the other person and our sentences and thoughts ran on and on forever. And no one could take away our butterflies, regardless of what was going on around us. And though we remember how it felt, it seems the older we get, the magic gets a little bit harder to find.
Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park helps us recollect our own first loves and maybe even future ones through the eyes of two teenagers who don’t really view themselves as anything special. Eleanor, 15, is the new girl at school who faces belittlement from her classmates about her weight, bright red hair, and strange clothes. She has a difficult home life (to say the least). Park, a half-Korean boy who is “in” with the popular crowd and comes from a loving family, is forced to sit with Eleanor on the bus. Through comic books and 80’s alternative music the pair form a bond that is anything but ordinary.
Don’t let the idea of reading about teenagers deter you from reading this sweet little reminder that love can truly save people. It’s more than worthy of the Printz Honor for this year.
Gary gives it three paws.
2014 Michael L. Printz Honor Book for Excellence in Young Adult Literature
2013 Boston Globe Horn Book Award for Best Fiction Book
A Publishers Weekly Best Children’s Book of 2013
A New York Times Book Review Notable Children’s Book of 2013
A Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Book of 2013
An NPR Best Book of 2013