Friday, March 28, 2014

Marie's Pick: Final Round of the Dubuque Tournament of Books

It's the final round of the 2014 Dubuque Tournament of Books, and the judges are weighing in on the final match-up. Will it be And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini or Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Judge: Marie
River Lights Bookstore

Like Sue, I have been spending an inordinate amount of time vacillating between Eleanor & Park and And the Mountains Echoed.  While I admit to not being the biggest fan of YA Fiction, Eleanor & Park engaged me.  I felt an emotional connection to the two teenagers and really did enjoy all the references to 80s literary culture, like Dicey Tillerman and everything Alan Moore.  And don't even get me started on The Smiths and Joy Division.  Eleanor & Park was heart-breaking and, at times, difficult to read, not because of the writing style, but because of the hurt and embarrassment felt by one of the titular characters.  It felt like a teen book that adults, especially those who came of age during the mid-80s, would thoroughly enjoy.

I have listened to some of the criticism over And the Mountains Echoed and, frankly, am having trouble relating to it.  I didn't find the vignettes difficult to weave into the larger story and, similarly, did not encounter difficulties keeping track of each character.  That being said, I do have a rather deep fondness for Russian literature and cut my teeth on Gabriel Garcia Marquez, so that may have had an impact.  I maintain that And the Mountains Echoed is one of the better stories I have read in some time, the effect of which is only beginning now to wear off.  While Eleanor & Park is an easier book to read, And the Mountains Echoed seemed to me to be worth the investment.

My vote is for And the Mountains Echoed, but, it should be noted, that it I favor it over Eleanor & Park by a very thin margin.

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