When I finished Eleanor & Park, I just sat there, wondering...
Did I read the same book everyone else did?
Am I broken?
In the interest of full disclosure, I don't typically read contemporary YA; it's just not my thing. But I did really enjoy both Attachments and Fangirl, so I was expecting Rainbow Rowell to pull me in and make me love her characters yet again. Unfortunately, that didn't happen.
Everyone else is saying how the book will make you think of your first love, and I guess it did that for me. I was a misfit. I know what it's like not to have friends. I know what it's like to suddenly have a boyfriend and wonder how it happened. I know what it's like to be so caught up in those new emotions. I remember all that. But the thing is, I felt like I was substituting my feelings and my memories of first love for theirs. I couldn't seem to care about Eleanor or Park, separately or together. I was moving through their story, but I couldn't get caught up in it.
I should have been a lot more invested in this book. It was so much closer to my own experience, and yet it didn't make me feel the way And the Mountains Echoed did. Hosseini's novel, as complex and challenging as it was, grabbed hold of me and didn't let go. And as much as I hate to say it, Eleanor & Park just fell flat for me.
My vote for the final round is for And the Mountains Echoed.