Fangirl - I HAD to pick up more of Rowell's work...and I was seriously not disappointed by my next read - Eleanor & Park.
The year is 1986 and Eleanor has just returned home after a forced year away. Her stepfather, Richie, had sent her away and her mother had finally convinced him to let her return. Eleanor's homelife is anything but easy under the regime of her stepdad. He may be cruel to her and her brothers and sisters, but her is violent toward her mother and Eleanor at 16 knows that if she speaks up or acts out - her mother will be the one to pay the price.
Add to this the fact that she can't afford the nice "normal" clothes and necessities of a teenage life and the cruelty of teenage girls and Eleanor is ready for a decent into hell at her new school. Until the only seat on the bus happens to be next to Park. Beautiful Park.
The book is part teen romance, but REAL teen romance. The kind that develops without warning and becomes more than "She thinks I'm cute so we're going out!" stuff. Eleanor and Park bond over a shared love of punk and comic geekery. Soon, they are in a relationship neither expected and are facing the reality of Eleanor's situation. I'm not sure this is necessarily considered YA fiction - it deals with some pretty hard stuff.
The point of view switches back and forth between Eleanor and Park so you do get to see what is happening from both angles and it is done so smoothly that the story never stumbles along like they sometimes can with this style of writing.
The book literally had me work through the emotional highs and lows along with the characters. I found them easy to relate to and Rowell has crafted some incredibly well-developed characters that it is easy to care about. The story plays out in a very real way that isn't easily resolved when the book ends, yet Rowell has written it in such a way where the reader is given a bit of hope.
Rainbow Rowell is a true talent and I cannot wait to read the next book on my playlist...and then it will be me sitting anxiously awaiting the new release that will be out in a few months time.
Read this. Just read it.