Friday, December 19, 2014

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NY1 teams with contributors from The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Magazine, and Essence Magazine to review the latest books and book-related trends.

The Book Reader: 'Eleanor & Park'

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Lindsey Weber of reports for NY1 on newly released book titles and the world of publishing in "The Book Reader."

With so many of Young Adult's more recent best-selling books and upcoming films set in depressing dystopian futures, it’s easy to forget how nice it can be to read about an honest adolescent romance.

That’s not to say Rainbow Rowell’s "Eleanor & Park" isn’t full of tension. It is! It’s just the heart-pounding, sweat-inducing anxieties of first love -- without any of the end of the world stuff. Guess you don't really need it when love alone can feel like the end of the world though. Especially when you’re in high school.

Eleanor is an eccentrically-dressed, chubby redhead who arrives in Omaha only to be mocked by her classmates with the cruel nickname “Big Red.” Park is a quiet loner who’d rather listen to The Smiths and stay as far away from adolescent drama as possible. Good thing they share a seat on the school bus. The two outsiders slowly bond over comic books, mixtapes and feeling like outsiders -- Park may hang with the cool crowd, but he’s the only Asian kid in school. It turns out that Eleanor’s eccentricities stem from a really rough family life.

"Eleanor & Park" switches between each teenager’s internal monologue, filling realistic awkward silences with a frantic internal he-loves-me-he-loves-me-not. Everything’s awkward, and Rowell isn’t afraid to make her reader equally uncomfortable. But you have to root for the two, who pit themselves against a world unsupportive of their relationship. It’s no Romeo + Juliet, but doesn’t all forbidden love end up feeling that way? And while I won’t ruin the ending, you don’t have to worry about double suicide.

Dreamworks Studios recently acquired the rights to turn "Eleanor & Park" into a feature film and it might actually be nice to finally strip away the magic, vampires and dystopian futures. Being a teenager is harrowing enough.

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