February 2, 2014

January - Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Our January selection was Omaha author Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor and Park. This is a book that's stirred up some controversy and garnered a lot of praise. The controversy has largely had to do with Rowell's use of profanity which some of us did have a problem with, particularly early on. On the other hand, some of us felt it was entirely appropriate for the characters to use that kind of language or did not find it offensive or excessive. That is about the only fault any of us had with this book. Ann and Lisa couldn't put it down and raced through it while Linda was enjoying it so much she wanted it to last longer and intentionally made it last.

All of us loved this book - the characters, the writing, the way everything about it felt so real and believable. We talked a lot about what the three words referred to at the end of the book were and ***possible spoiler alert***why Eleanor didn't write back to Park after he took her to her uncle's house. Diana wondered if it were because of her own bad luck with men. Certainly she had never had a man should could rely on.

Knowing something about Rowell's background, we wondered if she drew a little bit on her own past in creating Eleanor. Some of us had read Rowell's earlier book Attachments which was very obviously set in Omaha, referring frequently to places that were landmarks in the city at the time the book was set. Eleanor and Park is also set in Omaha but we wondered why it was so much less obvious. Lisa wondered if it was intentionally done to make the book have the feel of this city but to also give it more of a feel of any city to appeal to a larger audience. Even though of us who have lived in the city for a number of years, and Ann who grew up here, couldn't place The Flats, the area of town that Eleanor and Park live in and tried to find hints in the book to help us place it.

Books that everyone loves don't always make good books for discussion. Eleanor and Park did!

Next month we'll be reading Jojo Moyes Me Before You. It's a bit of a departure for us, being a love story, but has received so much praise we'll read it for Valentine's Day. In March/April we'll really stretch ourselves by reading Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch, largely thought to be one of the best books of 2013.

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