I'll cross the sky for you...

Warning: this blog post contains spoilers. 

  This book people, I mean it. This book.
“You can be Han Solo," he said, kissing her throat. "And I'll be Boba Fett. I'll cross the sky for you.”
Simply put, Eleanor & Park moved me.

I don't know how else to explain it really. It took my expectations - already quite high - and it blew them out of the water. It's going to have to be something pretty special I think, to steal it's spot as book of my year.

Remember the first time you fell in love? Remember the first time he or she touched you, not in a sexual way, not even in an overly romantic way, maybe just the first time they held your hand? How you thought you might fall apart, how it seemeed like nothing could ever be the same again?

This book is about that. It's about love and it's about loss and it's about finding your place and surviving even when the odds are against you.

He wound the scarf around his fingers until her hand was hanging in the space between them.

Then he slid the silk and his fingers into her open palm.

And Eleanor disintegrated.

God, Rainbow Rowell, you know how to use your words.

Holding Eleanor's hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like holding something complete, and completely alive.

It's just a beautiful, moving achingly intimate story and I came away feeling (and I know this sounds ultra dramatic, but hello, I am quite dramatic so stop acting all surprised please) changed.

It's a simple story. Set it the 80's, (the 80's. woop woop) it is at it's core, a high school love story.

Eleanor - bullied for her weight and her appearance and her background and Park - token Asian kid, except he's only half-Korean,  meet by accident on the school bus. What unfolds is one of the most incredible love stories I've ever had the pleasure of reading. As in actually ever. These are not your typical romantic leads and this is not your typical love story. There are no fireworks, no falling hard and fast. It's gentle and slow-building and at it's crescendo it takes your breath away. It's intense and it's intimate and it's so so real; it reminds you exactly what it's like to be young and to fall in love and the language, the narrative voice,  the descriptors, are just beautiful, so beautiful.

The way the story develops, from nothing, made me so happy, it hooked me in and it refused to let go. I barely breathed til I'd finished it, and when I did finish I was in tears. It's a story that perfectly shows how incredible first love can be juxtaposed against the awkwardness, the uncertainty that goes hand in hand with that. Likewise the depth of feeling between Eleanor & Park, the cautious way in which they move forward with each other is made all the more poignant when shown alongside the ugliness of some of the other storylines: the cruelty of teenagers; the ugliness of Eleanor's home life;  the way Eleanor and Park struggle to find their place: Park desperate for his Dad's approval and Eleanor desperate to be invisible.
It's all just so raw. The beauty of what is good is raw, the ugliness of what isn't is raw, the way these two teenagers navigate their lives and each other is raw.

It's raw, but it's perfect. Yeah, I'm saying that word. The 'perfect' word. I loved this book that much.

"You know?" he repeated. She smiled, so he kissed her. "You're not the Han Solo in this relationship, you know." 
"I'm totally the Han Solo," she whispered. It was good to hear her. It was good to remember it was Eleanor under all this new flesh.

"Well, I'm not the Princess Leia," he said.

"Don't get so hung up on gender roles," Eleanor said.”
Since I found it initially via John Green's review in the New York Times, it seems fitting to use a quote of his, from TFIOS, to describe it:
“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.”
That is exactly how I feel about this. Please read it. Please.
“Bono met his wife in high school," Park says.
"So did Jerry Lee Lewis," Eleanor answers.
"I’m not kidding," he says.
"You should be," she says, "we’re sixteen."
"What about Romeo and Juliet?"
"Shallow, confused," then dead.
"I love you, Park says.
"Wherefore art thou," Eleanor answers.
"I’m not kidding," he says.
"You should be.”