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?
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.