Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

What were the chances you'd ever meet someone like that? he wondered. Someone you could love forever, someone who would forever love you back? And what did you do when that person was born half a world away? The math seemed impossible. How did his parents get so lucky?

I've never cared much for dating. Having a crush is painful and horrible... but not having a crush is just so boring. Good thing I have my TV shows and books to turn to. There really is nothing like falling in love with fictional characters (because sorry I only like people that I never have a chance with).

I still don't really care much for dating. To be honest, the thought of going on a first date positively frightens me. My social capabilities are not ready to handle the kind of anxiety that accompanies it. And anyways, I don't need someone to "complete" me, and neither should you. All that "find your other half" stuff is, well, depressing. And dangerous. Be your own whole self. Be your own hero.

Now there's nothing wrong with dating. It's beautiful (and for me a miracle)! But don't let anyone consume you. Complement each other. Inspire each other to be better. And compliments are cool too.

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When I was younger, I always imagined that it'd be... two friends in love, something innocent and pure. That's what Eleanor and Park were for me.

He finally realized that she was staring at his lap. Not in a gross way. She was looking at his comics--he could see her eyes moving... Park didn't say anything. He just held his comics open wider and turned the pages more slowly.

It was hard for me to find quotes to capture this simple, adorable relationship without copying down entire paragraphs. Rainbow Rowell doesn't use particularly sophisticated or complex vocabulary. It's the way she strings the words together that makes it special. For example, "Park was just her height, but he seemed taller." I imagine that's exactly how you'd picture someone you've fallen in love with. What a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person.

Books give you impossible standards. If ever there were a chance for a relationship like this to happen, elementary/middle/high school was it. Now that I'm in college, I've come to the sad realization that I used to be friends with some people only because we'd see each other so often. In college, it's really easy to pass people by. Here at Bryn Mawr we joke that there's a ghost population of people you never see who just go back and forth between their classes and dorm. It takes effort to get to know someone.

It's scary to think that so many parents met in college. Out of all the people in the world, how are you supposed to find The One? And what about the couples who met after college? How is that even possible? I'm not saying that I'm looking for someone in college before time runs out, because I'm not (let's not even mention the fact that I go to a women's college), but I've just come to realize what an impossible case of serendipity relationships are. It's is the closest thing we have to magic.

Eleanor & Park humored my childhood idealization of relationships, so reading this novel was a guilty pleasure. It was a quick, light read, though it got a little dark as the story progressed. I'm still not sure how I feel about the ending. Was it happy? Was it sad? Am I happy? Am I sad? I really have no idea.

Have you read Eleanor & Park or do you plan to? Thoughts? Feel free to comment below!


She only came back when she felt like it, in dreams and lies and broken-down déjà vu.

Park turned toward the Plexiglas window and waited for a world of suck to hit the fan.

Not a princess--princesses are just pretty. Eleanor's mother was beautiful. She was tall and stately, with broad shoulders and an elegant waist. All her bones seemed more purposeful than other people's. Like they weren't just there to hold her up; they were there to make a point.

Choose a poem that speaks to you. Choose a poem that will help you speak to someone else.

Because... because people want to remember what it's like to be young? And in love?

Holding Eleanor's hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like holding something complete, and completely alive... Maybe, he thought now, he didn't recognize all those other girls. The way a computer drive will spit out a disk if it doesn't recognize the formatting. When he touched Eleanor's hand, he recognized her. He knew.

He made her feel like more than the sum of her parts.

"Can't you just like a girl who likes you back?" "None of them like me back. I may as well like the one I really want."

I don't like you, Park. I... think I live for you. I don't think I even breathe when we're not together. Which means, when I see you on Monday morning, it's been like sixty hours since I've taken a breath. That's probably why I'm so crabby, and why I snap at you. All I do when we're apart is think about you, and all I do when we're together is panic. Because every second feels so important. And because I'm so out of control, I can't help myself. I'm not even mine anymore, I'm yours, and what if you decide that you don't want me? How could you want me like I want you?

But Park's face was like art. And not weird, ugly art either. Park had the sort of face you painted because you didn't want history to forget it.

I think you're... Beautiful. Breathtaking. Like the person in a Greek myth who makes one of the gods stop caring about being a god.

She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn't supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.

"Is he mean to her?" "Uh. Yeah." "Why doesn't she leave?" "I don't think she can... I don't think there's enough of her left."

What if he was wrong? What if he couldn't handle it? What if Park realized that all the things he thought were so mysterious and intriguing about her were actually just... bleak?

He looked like himself, Eleanor thought, but bolder. Like Park with the volume turned way up.

Desperate was white noise, as far as Eleanor was concerned--it was the hope that pulled at her heart with dirty little fingers.

Nothing before you counts. And I can't even imagine an after.

It was like their lives were overlapping lines, like they had their own gravity.

You act like there are two kinds of girls. The smart ones and the ones that boys like.

The world rebuilt itself into a better place around him.

Eleanor had never thought about killing herself--ever--but she thought a lot about stopping. Just running until she couldn't run anymore. Jumping from something so high that she'd never hit the bottom.

He tried again to remember how this had happened--how she went from someone he'd never met to the only one who mattered.

Park stayed awake for another hour or so, fueled by Coke and hurt feelings.

His eyelids fluttered. (Only eyelids do that. And butterflies.)

He knows I'll like a song before I've heard it. He laughs before I even get to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes me want to let him open doors for me.

It felt better than anything had ever hurt.

I'm not ready for you to stop being my problem.

Thank God she couldn't make her mouth work right now, because if she could, there'd be no end to the melodramatic garbage she'd say to him. You saved my life, she tried to tell him. Not forever, not for good. Probably just temporarily. But you saved my life, and now I'm yours. The me that's me right now is yours. Always.

PS: February book haul