Young adult novels today are dripping with romance. Pick-up any YA book and there is 95% chance there is love story buried deep in the pages. These romances wouldn’t survive without some kind of relationship. Authors either develop their character’s romantic relationships beautifully, or they make the romance instant and completely unrealistic. Fortunately, this week’s two books can fall in the first category, somewhat.
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
This book has been receiving a lot of hype over the past year. I picked it up when it first came out but put it on hold until a later date. I decided to pick it back up after I saw that it had been assigned for a young adult literature class at UW-Madison. Several friends and classmates have been continuously raving about this book. I thought it was a worthwhile addition to my reading list.
Eleanor and Park has a very Romeo and Juliet-esque feel to it, just with a slower start. Park and Eleanor first meet when Park moves offer so that Eleanor can sit on the bus. They ignore each other for a few weeks until Park notices that Eleanor is reading his graphics with him. Slowly, their relationship develops from an ignored affair into a full-on “I can’t even breathe without thinking about you.”
The greatest strength of this book is the realism behind it. Park and Eleanor are not your traditionally beautiful characters. Eleanor is fat. Rainbow Rowell flat out tells her readers that Eleanor is fat. Probably not as fat as she think she is, but nevertheless, not a Giselle Bundchen. Eleanor also comes from a troubled family. However, for once, the romantic interest does not swoop in and save her constantly from her misfortunes.
However, I felt book started going towards the more generic ya romance when the two characters finally made their relationship official. There were constant “ I can’t live without you.” Eleanor even goes to say, “I don’t like you, Park,” she said, sounding for a second like she actually meant it. “I…” – her voice nearly disappeared – “think I live for you.” Maybe I wasn’t your typical your teen, but I never said this to any of boyfriends. I don’t even think I have said direct line to my husband. Friends protest that some teens do talk this way, but I kind of hit my head on the desk when I read it.
In my opinion, the book did not live up the hype. I thought it was good romance, but not the greatest I have ever read. Adults who lived through the 80s will enjoy the nostalgia, especially the big hair references.
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simison
I recently got my mom hooked up on audiobooks and this was one of the books that I gave her. She called me one day just gushing about it. She described it in terms of the show, Big Bang Theory. She felt like she was watching Sheldon Cooper try dating. If you have never watched the Big Bang Theory, Sheldon Cooper is a brilliant theoretical physicist. It has never been confirmed, but Sheldon has Asperger’s syndrome. In The Rosie Project Don Tillman has very similar characteristics to Sheldon. Tillman also decides that he must find a wife and commences the wife project. This is completely destroyed when Rosie Jarman walks into his office and turns everything on its head.
I liked this romance novel. It has the everyday quirks of two people trying to navigate life. One person trying to rediscover her past and the other trying to apply scientific theories on how to achieve love. I also loved how humorous the book can be. Since readers are viewing the plot through Tillman’s eyes, we see how Tillman does not recognize social cues. However, the reader can immediately recognize when Tillman discusses something that probably should not have been mentioned. It is also interesting to see when Tillman makes a social faux pau. This includes loudly propositioning Rosie for sex in front of one her colleagues. This situation is very reminiscent of Sheldon Cooper publicly asking his friends if they were talking about coitus during a panel discussion.
Readers will enjoy reading how two unlikely characters, a storybook Penny and Sheldon, learn what makes and defines love.
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Travel back to Nebraska with Rainbow for another imperfect relationship. I actually preferred this relationship novel over Eleanor & Park. I appreciated that Rowell does not make her characters perfect. Simon is far from perfect and Cath has her own special characteristics. Simon’s and Cath’s relationship is not an instantaneous car crash but more like peeling an onion.
Blackmoore by Julianna Donaldson
This is a nice and clean romance for those who want a little more chivalry and little less sex. Defined as a proper romance (granted I think romance can be anything but proper), this is a book that you can recommend across ages without having to fear the content. I will admit that some characters and their personalities can be annoying (I had a few moments of eye-rolling) and the plot is extremely predictable, but there is something captivating about the book.
Six-word Memoirs on Love & HeartBreak by Writers Famous and Obscure
Ernest Hemmingway, allegedly, created one of the first six-word memoir when he wrote, “For Sale: Baby Shoes, Never Worn.” This trend continues in Six-Word Memoirs on Love & Heartbreak. Authors portray the loss and beauty of love. This book will resonate with the young and old.
If you are in the library field and would like to create your own seven-word memoir, check out http://booksecret.org/