I guess everyone feels grief in their own way - and there are a lot of different types of loss. I noticed that the past few books here have dealt with the death of someone. Sorry to be so 'Debbie Downer'.... but it isn't going to get much lighter. At least this post isn't about someone dying - something to get excited about!
I had heard so many great things about the book, Eleanor and Park, that I actually stopped reading the books I am supposed to be reading for the state book award committee I am on and started listening to it. At first, I felt disappointed. I wasn't being drawn in as I have been with other 'great books' recommended to me by my many librarian friends.
Perhaps because this book is meant for an older crowd, it has plenty of pages to build up steam, but when it did - it blew my socks off. As I just spent the last 20 minutes of my lunch hour in my car sobbing along with the 'at the same time heartwarming and heartbreaking' end to the book, I can tell you that it is worth the long introduction and build-up.
Eleanor is the new girl - and much like with 'When Life Gives You O.J.', she doesn't look like anyone else. Long curly red hair and a not-so-size 2 waist quickly give her the nickname of 'Big Red'. As a person who also wasn't the skinny kid in high school, I felt every bit of the shame in her nickname. Listen up, some kids aren't meant to be super thin.... read: I am of good German farmer stock and inherited a few too many masculine traits from my dad. It happens.
There is something about Eleanor. Either you knew her in high school, or you felt like you were her. Either way, she becomes a sort of kindred friend of yours that you want to protect from her horrible life. I know I live in my own little bubble - if I don't want to see something, it doesn't exist, but this book gently breaks into the subject of physical, emotional, and verbal abuse in a way that feels organic and real. I was left wondering who in my high school I may have overlooked. Was that going on in the houses of any of my friends? Should I have noticed something I didn't?
And then she meets Park and her life is never the same. They find in each other a friend and champion they didn't know they needed, but will never live without. It is those first experiences with love and connection that shape us into the fully grown adults we are today. Even when the heartbreak comes, it is always worth it - and isn't that a good lesson to learn?
Books that make you go, "hmmmmm." And then sweep you off your feet. :)