Scootsa1000’s #CBR5 Review 41: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

UnknownAt this point, I really don’t know what I can say about Rainbow Rowell that I haven’t already said. Or preached, I guess, would be a better term. If you haven’t read Eleanor & Park, what are you waiting for? If you haven’t read Attachments, well, I’m not sure I want to know you anymore.

And now, here we have Fangirl. And again, come on. Go out and get these books. Read them right now. Use your Amazon Prime account or run to the library. You won’t be sorry.

Fangirl is about identical twin sisters Cather (Cath) and Wren. They are freshman at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and have very different feelings about it. Wren is excited — she wants to meet guys and party and drink and live it up. Cath is a bit more of a homebody (that’s really saying it lightly) and isn’t really very enthused about doing anything but sitting in her dorm room and writing. She doesn’t even find out where the cafeteria is until a few weeks into school when her roommate (the wonderful Reagan) drags her forcibly, realizing that Cath has been living on jars of peanut butter and boxes of protein bars.

Cath is a gifted writer, and almost all of her time and energy go into writing Simon Snow (think Harry Potter, but a magician, NOT a wizard) fanfiction. Cath is one of the most popular fanfic writers out there, and her speciality is writing slash fiction about Simon and his vampire roommate, Baz. Not exactly your typical college activity.

Cath meets a few friends — she has a major crush on her writing partner, Nick, and she becomes friendly (against her will) with Reagan. But more than anyone else, she bonds with Reagan’s boyfriend, the simply adorable Levi.

Reading about Levi made me want to go outside for a walk in the sun (or in the snow, or whatever) and drink Gingerbread Lattes from Starbucks. He made me want to read The Outsiders and go to museums. Levi is the kind of guy you want to know in real life, and his “joie de vivre” leaps off the page with his every word and movement.  Rainbow Rowell has a real gift for writing sympathetic male characters (Park, Lincoln) that are better than most men you’ll ever meet in your life.

Of course, not everything in Cath & Wren’s lives is centered on college. Their dad is home, alone, which isn’t a good thing. He’s a bit manic (the word bipolar is never actually used, but I’m guessing that’s the situation) and doesn’t always remember to eat, or sleep, or even go home from work without his girls to remind him. And their mom? Out of the picture for the most part. She left the girls on 9/11, never to return. But she decides to check back in with them all these years later, not as a mom, but more as a “friend”. This doesn’t really go over too well, if you can imagine.

I loved pretty much every minute of this book. Thank you, fellow Cannonballers, for spreading the word about Rainbow Rowell and getting her on my radar.

My only complaint about this book? That I finished it, and there aren’t any more books by Rainbow Rowell to read right now. Her next one doesn’t come out until 2014.

 You can read more of my reviews (of Rainbow’s books and others) on my blog.
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Sophia’s #CBR5 Review #43: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor & ParkRainbow Rowell became one of my to-read authors as soon as I read Attachments. So, I was pretty excited when I was finally able to pick up Eleanor & Park (2013) from the library. I started reading it immediately.

Eleanor has just moved to a new high school. She is overweight, unfashionable, and antisocial. Her family life at home is not good, to say the least. She sits next to Park, a half-Asian kid, on the bus because she has no other options. And slowly, very slowly, the two develop a relationship. Their relationship is sweet, and their lives are realistic. I enjoyed reading it.

A lot of people have already read and reviewed this book, so I really don’t have much to add. I liked this book. I like that the characters feel like real high school kids, and their relationship fit their age and emotional maturity. Eleanor’s home life was incredibly disturbing. I could feel how trapped, isolated, and helpless she felt. My god, adolescence is hard enough without adding on all that other crap she had to deal with. My stomach started hurting whenever she went home, and I couldn’t even imagine functioning under the emotional stress and lack of support that she had to deal with.. In that way, this one felt much darker than Attachments. I’m not sure if I could pick a favorite from the two, though. I can relate more to the characters from Attachments because I’m not a kid anymore, but Eleanor and Park are such interesting characters. I’m looking forward to reading Rowell’s latest.

See the rest of my reviews here.

Travis_J_Smith’s #CBR5 Review #35: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

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Could I have to expand my so-called Holy Trinity to a Holy Quadrinity? Rainbow Rowell, that name of hers be damned, is sure making a case for it. I’ll withhold my final verdict until her third book, Fangirl, comes out, but her chances of reaching that same rarified company as King, Adams, and Vonnegut are looking good.

Again, Rowell hit me right in the feels, so much so that I was actually compelled to type “right in the feels,” a phrase I had avoided prior to now. Again, Rowell made me care so deeply about her characters and their happiness that I couldn’t, or at least didn’t want to, envision an ending which denied them that same happiness.

This isn’t a story of love at first sight. Park can barely stand to allow Eleanor to sit next to him at first. But, from there, things progress bit by bit until the two know nothing but their love for one another. It all could be easily construed as cloying instead of sweet, but Rowell balances it out with a fair share of darkness.

Think of Eleanor & Park as a strong cup of coffee with enough sugar and cream mixed in to make it look as white as Eleanor herself. Except, in this case, you can still taste the underlying bitterness of the coffee through it all, and yet you don’t mind because it makes everything that much sweeter.

Travis Smith’s blog, containing this review, as well as others, photography, and more, can be found here.

narfna’s #CBR5 Review #29: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

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This is going to be one of those times where the review of the book is slighter than it should be, but dangit, sometimes you read a book that makes you feel feelings that it might take you several months of prolonged writing to properly parse out. I just don’t have that kind of time to spend on this review, not if I want to make that damn double Cannonball.

I fell head over heels in love with Rainbow Rowell’s debut novel, Attachments, back in February, and even though her second novel is a horse of a different color, her lovely words, her ability to create lovable, relatable, yet flawed characters, and, quite frankly, her gift at capturing moments of heightened emotion, both small and large, remains the same (if not improved).

Eleanor & Park is the story of two teenagers in 1986. New girl Eleanor sits next to Park on the bus, and in between reading comics over his shoulder and sharing headphones with one another, they fall in love. Eleanor is an outlier, a big girl with a shock of red curly hair, who wears strange, mismatched clothes and has an extremely troubled family life. Park, due to his longevity in the neighborhood, is actually pretty high on the social acceptance scale, but has always felt like an outsider anyway because of his Korean heritage and his interest in less traditionally masculine things. There isn’t much plot movement, per se, but there sure as hell is a lot of emotional movement. Rowell is an expert at examining the nuances of interpersonal relationships, at taking the moments a lot of authors just gloss over and punching you in the feelings with them. There’s this scene where Eleanor and Park hold hands for the first time that just took my breath away, and it was such a simple moment, but Rowell just kills it. The only thing about Eleanor & Park is that it’s dark in places that I wish it wasn’t, not because it’s not well-written or I didn’t like the story, but because it illuminates certain things about life that I’d prefer to forget exist. This isn’t a happily ever after sort of story, but it is a damn good one.

If you want a really, really good review of this book, go here. Otherwise, just take my word for it and read this book.