Eleanor & Park

Eleanor and Park…

Is just that. Eleanor and Park.

A chunky, red haired girl and a slight but beautifully offbeat boy.

A teenage love story that has the depth to deal with domestic abuse, racism, body image, bullying and self worth.

It is because of this that I seem to have fallen head over heels for this pair of quirky individuals as they become embroiled in each other’s lives in Nebraska, USA circa 1986. Eleanor has to deal with poverty and fear whilst trying to keep the one good thing clear of all the things her home represents and by the middle of the book she seems to cling to his loving, accepting household like he and it is her one remaining life raft. He is just learning about acceptance outside of his tight family circle in a neighbourhood that has not always been so welcoming.

On paper this book sounds like it has all the factors needed for a painful cheesy teenage novel but Rowell has been clever enough to make her characters so real it hurts. They know what they feel is real but are aware that they are teenagers. They also show embarrassment and humility in bucket loads and it is so refreshing that Eleanor, a girl who has never had positivity in her life, realises that while a boyfriend is a good thing he will never be able to fix everything and should not be the only safe person in her life.

If that isn’t a good lesson for a teenage girl I don’t know what is.

I was especially blown away by the end of this book. It finished to imply it was a short story, a mere chapter in a life that could never fit into one novel.

I will be thinking about this one for a while to come.

 

Hurray for Rainbow Lowell!

 

 

 

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A small collection of words about Good Reads

 

Today I am having a little think about why I have an account with Good Reads yet I don’t use it and know now that I have no intention of doing so.

I can’t deny that I do like documenting my reads, I have a journal into which I have written every book I have read since April 2012 in chronological order (I would save this from a burning building along with my signed copy of ‘How to Build a Girl’). I have also recently opted to ‘pin’ these books on a Pinterest Board for ‘funnsies’. Also if you are reading this blog it is obvious I like to ramble about/review/pontificate about some, if not all, of the books I read, so why not post them on Good Reads? Review them there?…

 

Reason one.

I don’t think I am confident in the reviews I write/ thoughts I have to see them lined up next to others. What if I have missed the point of the book entirely? Oh the shame!

Reason two.

Seriously, I cannot remember one more password! I don’t think I could get into my one time Good Reads account if I tried/wanted to. Again, shameful.

Reason three.

The recommendations you get from the books you have read are endless and beautiful but I really don’t think I can add one more book to the never ending pile of ‘to read’ in addition to the two books I am reading a month to review for work.

I may have to live forever just so I can read them all. Do I have a problem? Hell yes I do.

 

 

 

Now? Later? – The short rambles of an eternal procrastinator

Procrastinate? Me? Surely not!

If university was to teach me anything it was that by avoiding the inevitable you can create a lot of fun, mundanity, eventful and plain old strange activities.
Don’t get me wrong, a lot of the time it involved me watching copious amounts of The Gilmore Girls reruns or sitting on the end of my housemate’s bed like a cat but it is something I have never ‘grown out’ of.

In fact, even as I type there are things I should be doing. The list today included applying for [new] jobs, making a life plan [one day…], reading the three books that have reviews due in the next month and brushing the scruffy looking old lady labrador who really needs to look more like she belongs to a loving household [she actually does but has a penchant for looking unkempt]

So that’s one thing. I write.
I also revel in Pinterest
And scroll and scroll and scroll away on Tumblr, something I never thought I would get into.

So the internet is there purely for my procrastinating purposes, right?

I am so glad you agree. 

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How To Build A Girl

I guess the problem I have with Caitlin Moran is that she could write any old rubbish and I would probably be too blinded by hero worship to actually see it for what it is… old rubbish.

That is not to say that is what her latest offering is but if you are here expecting a lack of bias and detachment, keep moving.

In fact, if her next book happens to detail how positively cool it is to meet on a weekend and shear sheep of their beautiful wooliness, I will be there. Second hand clippers in tow and a few unwitting friends I may have blindsided with the words ‘just going to the pub’. Friends, beware.

So, with that out of the way, let’s discuss How to Build a Girl.

It starts with a very clear introduction from the author reminding one and all that it is a work of fiction, despite the very clear links with Caitlin’s past. Wolverhampton, large family, benefit dependency and a wholly determined and devastatingly embarrassing protagonist, Johanna, all let us slip into a world that could be confused with the author’s own determined and devastatingly embarrassing adolescence (See How to Be a Woman).

With that little bit of confusion cleared up it is on with the tale.

We follow Johanna and her alter ego writer, Dolly Wilde, as she potters around the house looking after her siblings, trying to keep on the top side of teenage sexual frustration whilst looking for a way to help fund her family out of their financial woes.

We see her build a career in music journalism, fall in love, take a stroll into a myriad of sex adventures, nearly burn down her career along with her family’s finances as well as the obligatory reminder of the sheer misery that is cystitis*. Quite an escapade really! And one that I really did enjoy. It made me laugh loudly and smile like a fool, unfortunately it did also make me cry but that is my cross to bear as that had more to do with my relating strongly to a far from self assured teenager at the grand old age of twenty five.

What I think she has achieved here is giving a voice to that youth inside all of us that remains eternally outcast, the opportunity to ‘rebuild’ for all those who think ‘this is not me’ and a gentle reminder that the only person allowed to judge you is you.

A positive message as far as I can tell!

So, as far as I am concerned Caitlin Moran’s jaunt into fiction is a success.

Keep the fiction flowing!

 

Now, in order to complete my full transformation into ‘fan girl’ I need this particular hardback signing!

Roll on next week when I shall be attending Caitlin Moran Live (in Leeds)**.

 

 

 

 

 

*we all know that nothing written by Moran would be worth its salt without this terribly painful reminder.

** ramble on this to follow.