Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve been on here. The end of the school year is always crazy, and then once it’s over you need a little time to just vegetate. But, I finished a book last night that was so good it required me to come back on here to rave about it.
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. Wow. What a read. It was chosen as one of this year’s nominees for the Florida Teens Read list, so I had to read it, but it’s also one I kept hearing such great things about that I think I would have eventually come around anyway.
I think it’s actually a perfect follow-up on the heels of the uber-popular The Fault in Our Stars. Once you’ve read that, cried, seen the movie, cried, listened to the soundtrack, and then cried one last time, then you should pick up Eleanor & Park. It’s in a similar vein, and it’s just as well written, clever, fresh, and realistic, if not more so than Fault. Does that sound like blasephemy? I don’t think so, because honestly, we all know that Augustus and Hazel do tend to use a lot of lofty vocabulary and both come from loving and well-off families. In Eleanor & Park, none of the characters talk like 20-something Harvard graduates, and Eleanor comes from a terrible home life, which I think many more teenagers can (sadly) probably better relate to.
I still have nine more Florida Teens Read books to finish this summer, so we’ll see, but I highly doubt any of them will come close to the magic and feeling of Eleanor & Park. Rowell has also written another book called Fangirl, which I haven’t read, but one of my very bright and well read students did read it and said she enjoyed it very much. John Green… watch out… Rainbow Rowell is onto something here…
If you haven’t read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green yet, odds are you’re not a teenager or YA librarian. But you’ve probably heard of it by now if you’re any kind of bibliophile because the hype it has been getting is phenominal. It helps that the movie adaption is coming out in June (watch the trailer: http://youtu.be/9ItBvH5J6ss). But listen- the hype is actually TOTALLY WORTH IT! If you’ve read any of John Green’s books before, then you know his style and voice already, and this book stays true to his typical form. The teens are smart and witty, and maybe a little hyper-literate compared to your average teen, but that’s ok because I know plenty of sharp teens who want to read books about other smart teens and won’t settle for schlock. The catch here, which you already know if you’ve read the book or just watched the trailer, is that these teens are dealing with terminal illness. Boom. Is it heart-wrenching? Absolutely! But I felt so refreshed reading this book because at least it feels true to life and it shows that not every YA book has to end tied up in a cute little bow.
If you’re sick of dystopian action triologies (and even I am a little bit, and that’s my favorite genre!), then I implore you to give this book a shot. I don’t care if you’re over 18, I promise it’s a worthwhile read.
Heck, I loved the book so much I painted my library to match it:
If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.
I’m also ashamed to admit this, but I only just found out today that Hazel Grace is based off of a real girl:
Sadly, Esther has passed away, but at least her legacy will live on in some way through the book and now the movie.
READ IT, PLEASE!
Laurie Halse Anderson has created a list of some great choices for teens (and us adults) dealing with difficult topics, such as drug addiction, death, and alienation. I’m happy to say I have most of these in my media center already, but it’s nice to see them compiled together to make it easier to help make good suggestions to my students.
That’s what I love about books- they’re a wonderful way to remind you that you’re not alone, no matter what you’re going through. You can escape and connect through the characters’ experiences, all judgment-free.
Two of my favorites of all time, American Born Chinese and The Fault in Our Stars, are on here, as well as some I’m dying to read, like Eleanor & Park. It’s sitting on my desk… now to find the time!