Published: 2013 by Orion
Read: September 2013
Categories: Fiction, Contemporary, YA
Trivia Tidbit: A group of Minnesota librarians recommended the book and invited Rainbow Rowell to speak with students. Some parents objected to the language in the book, demanded it be removed from school shelves and requested the librarians be disciplined. The National Coalition against Censorship then became involved. Read about it here in an interview by Mallory Ortberg with the author.
Full Disclosure: Purchased
Set in 1986, Eleanor is the new, awkward girl on the bus with a life full of worries. Park is the guy sitting alone, headphones on to drown out the morons on the back seat. "The new girl took a deep breath and stepped farther down the aisle. Nobody would look at her. Park tried not to, but it was kind of a train wreck/eclipse situation. The girl just looked like exactly the sort of person this would happen to." From this inauspicious beginning Eleanor and Park begin to know, like and love each other. Eleanor is subject to intense bullying at school and a troubled home life, while Park's ride through home and school is comparatively cushy. Their relationship gathers momentum as they know each other better, but sometimes the things life throws at you are can overwhelm your first love.
I love that this story is set in 1986. I suppose this is due in part to the fact I was in high school in the 1980s so some of the references took me straight back, but I think it is mostly due to the absence of mobile phones and facebook. Waiting for a phone call, memorising someone's number, making a mixed tape. Maybe it is just nostalgia, but the story of first loves is a universal one, and you certainly don't need to be the awkward red-haired girl from the wrong neighbourhood or the quiet Asian guy dressed in black to see a little of yourself in these characters.