Friday, July 5, 2013

Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Publishing Date: February 26, 2013

Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Pages: 325 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 5/5

Summary (From Goodreads):

"Bono met his wife in high school," Park says. 
"So did Jerry Lee Lewis," Eleanor answers. 
"I’m not kidding," he says. 
"You should be," she says, "we’re sixteen." 
"What about Romeo and Juliet?" 
"Shallow, confused, then dead." 
''I love you," Park says. 
"Wherefore art thou," Eleanor answers. 
"I’m not kidding," he says. 
"You should be." 

 Set over the course of one school year in 1986, Eleanor and Park is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.

I am far beyond astounded by this book.

I can not put into words all the things I have felt, and, my gosh, the tears I have cried due to Eleanor & Park.

Ever since reading The Fault in Our Stars, I've been longing to read more contemporary fiction.  So, when I saw how much all my friends and several of my favorite authors had all been saying how awesome Eleanor & Park was, I decided I'd read it next.

I figured, considering the fact that the last contemporary book I read was all about a girl who had cancer, that Eleanor & Park would be a cute, lighthearted read in comparison.  Little did I know.

This book is filled to the brim with emotion.  Gallons of it.  Rivers of it.  Oceans of it.  Not a page went by that I was not thoroughly enthralled by the beauty or the reality of this book.  I read the entire book in a single day because I simply refused to put it down.

Rainbow Rowell beautifully tells a love story that is so simple, and yet somehow unlike any other.  It's something seen a million times before, and yet, never seen quite like this.  It's heartbreakingly beautiful.

And, even though you may cry more than you think it should be possible to cry over a book, you won't want to take it back.  Something about this book, charming and touching as it is, will gain a special place in your heart.  Something you won't want to let go of.

And isn't that the whole point of a book? To add a little something to each and every person who reads it? I think Eleanor & Park definitely added something beautiful to me, and it's something I'm glad to have.

Favorite Quote:
"Eleanor was right.  She never looked nice.  She looked like art, and art wasn't supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something."

Peace out, Girl Scouts,

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Review: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Review: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Publishing Date: October 25, 2010

Publisher: Harper

Pages: 470 (Paperback)

My Rating: 4/5

Summary (From Goodreads):

What if you only had one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?

 Samantha Kingston has it all: looks, popularity, the perfect boyfriend. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it turns out to be her last.

 The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning. Living the last day of her life seven times during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death—and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.

I'm not quite sure what to do about this review.

It's funny, as soon as I finished reading the book, I had so much to say, so many thoughts to convey.  I was two people all at once: the busy-bee inside of me was thinking of all the things I could include in my review, every single feeling I had and why I felt that way.  I was bursting at the seams with thoughts and emotions that I had to let out.  And then there was the calm side of me, that just sat for about 15 minutes (yes, there were tears) and listened to my heartbeat.  I was amazed at how alive I was,  how beautiful it was to just be.  

So, as I start this review, I have one million things to say, but absolutely no idea how to say them.

War between the two sides of me.

I suppose I'll start with the fact that things have more than a surface-level meaning, and how well Before I Fall conveys that.  For the first half of this book (if not more), I hated it.  I hated everything about it.  I loathed the self-obsessed main character (Sam Kingston), I loathed her friends' (and her own) lack of morality, and I thought it was nothing more than another stupid, "teen-y", idiotic book that makes it look okay to party and do drugs and have sex as much as you want.  I had basically already written the hate-review in my head.

And then I got farther in.  I realized that this book was not glorifying immorality, but rather using it to represent mistakes.  Big mistakes, small mistakes, stupid mistakes, all those stupid things we humans do. The mistakes that come back to bite you in the butt.  And that's exactly what happened: it bit Sam in the butt.  If she hadn't been doing what she'd been doing, she never would have been in a position where she was going to die anyway.  

But it didn't just make it seem like humans should never make mistakes and that we're awful beings if we do mess-up.  It showed that you have to learn from mistakes.  You have to pick yourself up again when you fall, and you have to learn to do it right.  Even if it takes you a thousand tries.  You have to learn.  

So is there content that I most definitely don't agree with in this book? Yes.  But I think that Lauren Oliver used it to show that just because we mess up doesn't mean that things can never be right again.  Doesn't mean that things can never be beautiful again.  Sure, it might not (and probably won't) be easy, but there's always a way to come back from your worst nightmare.

Another thing this book beautifully depicts is that there can't just be bad or good in life.  There can't just be white and black.  Sure, individual actions can be right or wrong, but life? No, life is a complete mix of the beautiful and the horrible.  On her best days, Sam still managed to mess something up.  On her worst days, she still managed to find at least a shred of goodness within her.  Nothing is white and black in life, and nothing is white and black about people.  

So, my feelings for this book are kind of in a jumble.  I'm sure I could have waited a couple of hours, or even days, to write this review, and I'm sure it would have been much clearer.  But, if Before I Fall taught me one thing, it's that you can look back on a moment and remember it.  You can summarize your feelings, or maybe even feel them again.  But you'll never be in that specific moment ever again.  So I wrote this review in the moment, writing how I feel right here, right now.

You guys, go enjoy your own moments. 

Peace out, girl scouts.