October 2020

Eleanor and Park – Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor & Park: Exclusive Special Edition: Amazon.ca: Rowell, Rainbow: Books

Pages Read: 333/333

✮✮✮✮☆ 

A heart-wrenching, 80s romance between two misfits from drastically different backgrounds that fit so perfectly. Park is a half-Korean 16-year-old who feels like an outsider in many ways- he’s the quiet guy in the back reading comics with his headphones plugged in. Eleanor, a chubby, awkwardly dressed redhead, continues to get stared down as well as relentlessly bullied, despite her attempts at being invisible – both at school and at home. What starts out as bonding over comics and mixtapes during bus rides blossoms into an unforgettable, tear-jerking first love.

Favorite Quotes:

“Holding Eleanor’s hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like holding something complete, and completely alive.” – pg71

“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.”
He closed his eyes and pressed his head back into his pillow.
“I don’t think I even breathe when we’re not together,” she whispered. “Which means, when I see you on Monday morning, it’s been like sixty hours since I’ve taken a breath. That’s probably why I’m so crabby, and why I snap at you. All I do when we’re apart is think about you, and all I do when we’re together is panic. Because every second feels so important. And because I’m so out of control, I can’t help myself. I’m not even mine anymore, I’m yours, and what if you decide that you don’t want me? How could you want me like I want you?”
He was quiet. He wanted everything she’d just said to be the last thing he heard. He wanted to fall asleep with ‘I want you’ in his ears.”

Comments:

I started this novel two years ago and didn’t get the chance to fully read it which is mainly the reason I reread it this month. The genuine blossoming love between Eleanor and Park warmed my heart and truly gave me butterflies, a realistic love that was far from lustful or manipulative. Rowell is an exceptional writer who added more depth to this raw teenage romance and really engaged readers with her use of unique prose as well as poetic style that swept me away with emotions from the start to the sad but hopeful end. This was a straightforward yet complex story that also didn’t ignore the misunderstandings, pain, awkwardness, and hardships of being a teenager in high school. A love story that all started from one bus ride that led to reading comics together and bonding over music (it’s like the cutest thing ever). The novel does shed light on racism, bullying, and abuse but after doing some research and looking into comments written by Asian reviewers, deeper issues were brought up that I honestly did not realize, involving the stereotyping/fetishizing of Park and other Asian characters, as well as other problems with East Asian representation in America with a constant focus on Park’s “otherness”. Authenticity, accuracy, and diversity in media is crucial for groups to feel validated and for minority / marginalized groups to be seen as individuals by others – and unfortunately, because of this reason, I’d personally give this novel a 3.5/5

Shalimar the Clown – Salman Rushdie

Shalimar the Clown: Rushdie, Salman: 9780676977554: Books - Amazon.ca

Pages Read: 398/398

✮✮✮☆ ☆ 

This is a tale of love and revenge within political history, a story about Max Ophuls, an American diplomat, his killer, his illegitimate daughter India, and the woman who links them all. This story begins with a murder in present California and later on circles back to explore conflicted Kashmir in the 1960s, where an illicit affair between a Muslim acrobat and a Hindu dancer takes place in the beautiful village of Pachigam. Along the way, there is kindness, magic, war, and finally love- both gained and lost.

Favorite Quotes:

“Our human tragedy is that we are unable to comprehend our experience, it slips through our fingers, we can’t hold on to it, and the more time passes, the harder it gets…My father said that the natural world gave us explanations to compensate for the meanings we could not grasp. The slant of the cold sunlight on a winter pine, the music of water, an oar cutting the lake and the flight of birds, the mountains’ nobility , the silence of the silence. We are given life but must accept that it is unattainable and rejoice in what can be held in the eye, the memory, the mind.”

“She saw him fracture into rainbow colors through the prism of her love.”

Comments:

This was a random choice, as I was hoping to experiment a little – it had intrigued me and wasn’t usually the genre I usually went for. I found myself struggling to get through the beginning of the book, it was tedious, to be honest, and it took a lot more time than expected. This novel took me on a diverse cultural experience through a heavy plot full of complications, tragic events, and intermingling relationships. An enjoyable part of this novel for me was how the author explored social and psychological aspects regarding impulses and ideological motivation, delving into why an individual would want to become an assassin or terrorist for example. I was also pleasantly surprised when I came across historical references to my homeland, which was a first for me. However, I did feel that there was more description than actual dialogue, which then resulted in a lack of intimacy making it harder to perceive the inner lives of the characters. This book did require a lot of historical knowledge as it did revolve around issues in Kashmir, the Second World War, Nazi-occupied Europe, and the post 9/11 world – including concepts like nationalism, imperialism, and religious sectarianism- so I did learn a lot. Overall, I did enjoy trying out something new while being exposed to a different style of lyrical writing and stunning prose.

Reflection:

Total # of Pages Read: 731 Total # of Pages Read Everyday (731/31 days) : 23

Looking back at my progress so far, I’m glad to see that I have been able to reach my reading goals that were set for this month. I have become more consistent in terms of how long I read for each day now, including reading a minimum of 20 pages every day. I’d like to work towards keeping this flow by continuing to set a certain time aside every night to read. I’m also looking forward to exploring and reading slightly challenging books next month as I’m open to trying out genres I don’t usually pick at first.

images:

https://www.amazon.com/Eleanor-Park-Rainbow-Rowell/dp/1250012570

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4830.Shalimar_the_Clown