MOTIVATION for READING: Everyone seems to be singing the praises of Rainbow Rowell and I had to find out why.
WHAT’s it ABOUT: A big redheaded girl wearing a style all her own enters the bus for the first day of school and no one will offer the spot next to them. She has nowhere to sit and the tension on the bus is agonizing. It is especially upsetting to Park, a kid who prefers not to have any attention directed his way but he also can’t stand to see anyone else humiliated, either. He gives up his half of the bench and allows her to share. They start a slow to build reluctant friendship, then a hot deep passionate love. It’s beautiful, really.
WHAT’s GOOD: Park is a dreamboat. Eleanor is complicated and her life is even more complicated. The way their relationship blossoms is very endearing.
What’s NOT so good: Oh… What can I say. I loved this but didn’t fall as head over heels as Park does for Eleanor. It was sweet. It was tragic. It was a lovely heart-breaking heart-soaring (can a heart soar? yes, I think so.) read. I liked it. Actually, having lived in Omaha, I both loved the setting references and was annoyed that I didn’t really get a sense of place til they went downtown and that is for a number of reasons: I’ve been gone a long time and I didn’t get much knowledge of the poor areas of town when I lived there. My privilege shows.
And I couldn’t relate to many of the music and comic references. Shrug. So I wasn’t the best target audience for this; it’s still a great read.
FINAL THOUGHTS: This really captures that heightened tingling agonizing first-love sensations. Hats off to Rowell – obviously she is a writer of skill when it comes to making a reader FEEL something. (The following song, however, is not really like the book, other than the title. This song makes me cry every time.This book might make you cry.)
RATING: Three slices of pie. Pumpkin pie!
Risalamande is rice pudding.
“It’s a traditional Danish Christmas dessert, Eleanor thought. My grandmother made it, and her grandmother made it, and it’s better than pumpkin pie. It’s special.”