Tuesday, April 30, 2013

“Oh, Snap," I say. "What?" "Sorry. I was flashing back to 2005.”

Eve and Adam – Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate 
291 pages 
Genre: YA; Science Fiction 

Summary: Evening was involved in a horrific car crash that should’ve ended her life. Somehow she survived, and was quickly whisked away to her mother’s lab for treatment. As she is convalescing, Eve’s mother asks her to create the perfect boy using advanced software in the facility, but will things really be as perfect as they seem? 

Review: I was super excited to read Eve and Adam, mainly because it was written by the authors of the Animorphs series, a bookish staple of my childhood. Fortunately, I liked Eve and Adam just as much as I liked Animorphs, and I was hooked from start to finish. 

The plot was rather compelling, if at times predictable, and I flipped through the pages eagerly to discover if what I thought was going to happen would play out. On most occasions, I was able to foresee all of the events, but it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story in the least. Eve and Adam is very fast-paced, and there is rarely a dull moment. 

While the plot isn’t all that unique conceptually, it was still fun to see how everything unfolded. Evening was in a terrible accident that should’ve ended her life, yet she was able to heal remarkably quickly with her mother’s help, and it was fun to see her reaction as secrets began to unravel.

Evening was a rather strong narrator, and I really liked viewing the story through her eyes. Even though the description of the book makes her sound like she’s boy crazy, she really isn’t, though she does have fun working on her special project. Eve was a smart, capable girl who really thought things through and had no problem helping friends in need. 

Aislin, Eve’s best friend, was a wonderful foil character for Eve. While Eve was very pragmatic, Aislin was ruled a bit more by her emotions and often found herself in undesirable situations that Eve helped her get out of. Their friendship was incredibly strong, and even though they were really different, their friendship never faltered. It’s so refreshing to see such a positive female friendship depicted in a YA book, as they can often be portrayed as being rather catty, which is, of course, true to life, but it isn’t always the case, as can be seen with Aislin and Eve. 

I also really liked Solo, and it was interesting to discover why he was constantly trying to thwart Eve’s mother’s plans. Solo infiltrated the lab under the guise of seeking employment, and the things he finds out along the way are astounding. His relationship with Eve was also well-done and believable, and watching it evolve over time was a fun ride. 

If you’re looking for a fast-paced book with a science fiction feel, or if you are a fan of the Animorphs series, definitely give Eve and Adam a try. 

Rating: 3.5/5 

Read-alikes: The Adoration of Jenna Fox – Mary E. Pearson, Uglies – Scott Westerfield, Unwind – Neal Shusterman

Monday, April 29, 2013

“To love or have loved, that is enough. Ask nothing further. There is no other pearl to be found in the dark folds of life.”

Les Miserables – Victor Hugo 
1463 pages 
Genre: Classics 

Summary: Les Miserables takes place during the uprising in 1832 France, and follows the lives of various inhabitants therein. 

Review: When I finished this book, I felt like hoisting my fists in the air triumphantly and running around the block humming “Eye of the Tiger” or the theme song from “Rocky”. Les Miserables is absolutely massive, and the simple act of reading it makes one feel as if one is undertaking the most epic journey of all time. Like most voyages, however, it had its highs and lows. 

Let’s start with the highs, shall we? Les Miserables is written absolutely exquisitely. There were many instances in which I would find myself backtracking to read a passage over again, just because of the sheer beauty of the words. To say Hugo was an eloquent writer seems like the understatement of the year. He was so good at using words not only to say something in an exquisite way, but to get to the very heart of the human condition. His prose is filled with passion and emotion, and it’s hard not to become completely engrossed in the world he creates. 

The characters were just as complex and interesting as the writing, and it was easy for me to view things from their perspective. This was quite painful at times, as the content of Les Miserables is incredibly sad, but being able to empathize with the characters was a natural extension of the world created. Hugo really got inside the characters heads and lives and discussed all kinds of details about each to the reader, which made everyone seem wholly believable and real. 

At times, it was hard for me to keep the characters straight because there were so many, but I think the standout for me had to be Jean Valjean. Watching his evolution throughout the book was riveting, and his story was heartrending and intriguing. I tend to like the “criminal” characters the best in anything I’m reading, perhaps because I like to get to the heart of their motives, so I suppose it isn’t all that surprising that Jean Valjean’s story is the one that resonated with me the most. 

While there were some absolutely amazing aspects of Les Miserables, there was one thing that I really didn’t care for: Hugo would often go off on random tangents about sewers or some obscure piece of history, and twenty pages later, I’d say to myself “Really? We’re still talking about sewers? Can we hear more about Cosette now, please?” For me, this detracted from the story immensely, and it’s the reason it only earned three stars from me. I just didn’t care for the digressions, as they often made the plot move rather slow, which is a shame because the story itself is so compelling! 

Rambling departures aside, Les Miserables was an excellent read and I cannot wait to read more of Victor Hugo’s body of work. If you like classics, definitely give this a try! 

Rating: 3/5 

Read-alike: The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexander Dumas

Sunday, April 28, 2013

“If I win, I'm a prodigy. If I lose, then I'm crazy. That's the way history is written.”

Artemis Fowl – Eoin Coiffer
316 pages
Genre: Children’s, Adventure

Summary: Artemis Fowl is a 12-year-old evil genius who revels in criminal deeds. After kidnapping a fairy named Holly, things become infinitely more complicated. Can Holly escape Artemis’ malevolent clutches?

Review: The Artemis Fowl series is constantly circulating in my library, so I decided to read the first book to see what all the fuss is about. I didn’t really find anything special here, but the adventure within its pages makes it easy for me to understand the appeal it has for kids.

As much as the action will entice young readers, the plot never really drew me in, and I even found the scenes that were supposed to be exciting incredibly dull. I couldn’t quite muster up enough feeling to care about any of the events therein, and it all seemed very predictable to me. I think this is largely because of the simplistic writing style, which I wasn’t very fond of, but again, kids probably enjoy the straightforwardness.

I also didn’t really care for any of the characters, and found them to be quite two-dimensional. Artemis didn’t really seem all that compelling to me, and I wasn’t on the edge of my seat trying to figure out what Holly’s fate would be. Perhaps more character development is done later in the series, though.

While I didn’t like most of the characters, there was one standout for me: Juliet. I really enjoyed the scenes that she was in, and I especially liked that they used professional wrestling to distract her for hours. I used to be am a really big wrestling fan, so when she was talking about different moves and whatnot, it cracked me up.

There was also quite a bit of humor throughout that the book would delight young readers. This, combined with the basic writing style, also explains this series’ massive popularity, as it’s funny and easy to understand.

While this book wasn’t my cup of tea, I can certainly see why children gravitate towards it. Fans of 39 Clues will love Artemis Fowl!

Rating: 1/5

Read-alikes: 39 Clues series – various authors, Harry Potter – J.K. Rowling

Sunday, April 21, 2013

"You can't spend your entire life avoiding chance. It's out there, it's inescapable, it's a part of the soul of the world. There are no sure things in this universe, and it's absolutely ridiculous to try and live like there are!”

Midwives – Chris Bohjalian
384 pages
Genre: Contemporary; Mystery

Summary: In what should be a routine labor for experienced midwife, Sibyl Danforth, everything takes a tragic turn when unexpected complications arise that leave her patient, Charlotte, dead. While grappling with her grief, Sibyl soon finds herself on trial, as she is being implicated in Charlotte’s demise. Will the true events from that fatal evening ever be revealed?

Review: I’m usually not the biggest fan of mysteries, but I read and enjoyed another of Bohjalian’s books, The Sandcastle Girls, so I thought I’d give Midwives a try. Fortunately, I found Midwives to be just as intriguing as The Sandcastle Girls, although the subject matter varied greatly, and I was hooked from start to finish.

One of the shining aspects of Midwives was the suspense. This book could have gotten stale incredibly quickly, but there was action throughout and I was never bored. I really liked how the element of doubt pervaded every aspect of the novel, and just as I was convinced of one thing, Midwives would slap me in the face with new evidence that would blow my mind and make me think a different way. Additionally, the way the story was revealed in bits and pieces was an excellent strategy when dealing with the events of the fatal night and the subsequent trial.

I also really liked that an excerpt from Sibyl’s diary was included in nearly every chapter, as it shed insight into her life and what had occurred that the reader wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. Sibyl herself was very unreliable, often questioning whether she did the right thing, and I would imagine that anyone would feel much the same way if he or she was in Sibyl’s shoes.

Reading the story from Sibyl’s daughter, Connie’s, perspective, made Midwives absolutely fascinating. Connie wasn’t there when everything went down, though she did sometimes accompany Sibyl to births, but she always seemed to know exactly what had transpired on the night in question with absolute certainty. By providing this perspective, it really allowed the reader to see how other people were affected by everything that was happening besides the person on trial, Sibyl. Connie’s life changed dramatically because of her mother, and her perspective served to humanize the entire trial and the emotional impact it wrought in her life.

In addition to this book being suspenseful, it also provided a really good background on midwifery. Going into this, I had no idea what midwifery even consisted of, and it was really interesting to see what it actually is, even though some scenes did make me a bit squeamish (but I’m sure I would have felt the same way had I been reading about a hospital birth.) Midwives also brought ethical and moral questions to the table, especially as it relates to hospital and home births, and the nature of guilt and innocence, and it was interesting to see so many perspectives represented.

What an ending! Just when I was sure I had everything figured out, every notion I had was turned on its head on the very last page of the book. I’m pretty sure I exclaimed “What?” as I re-read it a few times, trying to ensure that what I was seeing was actually printed on the page. To say that it left me thinking for awhile afterward is probably the biggest understatement of the year, and it was the perfect way to end this book.

If you’re looking for a suspenseful read that will leave you guessing until the very last page, give Midwives a try. I can’t wait to read more of Chris Bohjalian’s books!

Rating: 4/5

Other Books by Chris BohjalianThe Double Bind, Skeletons at the Feast, The Sandcastle Girls, The Night Strangers

Friday, April 19, 2013

"There is something about talking in the night, with the shreds of sleep around your ears, with the silences between one remark and another, the town dark and dreaming beyond your own walls. It draws the truth out of you, straight from its little dark pool down there, where usually you guard it so careful, and wave your hands over it and hum and haw to protect people's feelings, to protect your own ."

Tender Morsels – Margo Lanagan
436 pages
Genre: Fantasy; Re-imagined Fairytales

Summary: Tender Morsels takes place in two distinct worlds: the real world; and Heaven, the world Liga imagines for herself. Heaven is a wonderful place where nothing bad ever happens, and Liga and her daughters lead a peaceful existence, until the real world forces its way into their perfect paradise. Will the trio finally be forced to confront reality head-on?

Review: If I could sum up Tender Morsels in one word, it would probably be “crazy,” as this is one of the most bizarre books I’ve ever read. In fact, there were many instances when I had to put the book down, just to ruminate a bit on the content while muttering to myself about the insanity within its pages.

Did I enjoy Tender Morsels? Honestly, I’m still not sure, and I had a really hard time assigning a rating. I thought it was beautifully written and it was easy to get into the characters’ vernacular as I became more absorbed in the story, but the subject matter therein was definitely cringe worthy. If you’re going into this book expecting a light read, put it back and walk away because it’s incredibly gloomy; however, if you like re-tellings that are on the darker side, you’ve found what you’re looking for.

The distinct worlds Lanagan imagined were extremely complex, unique, and detailed, and it was easy for me to picture them in my mind. I especially enjoyed the scenes in Heaven, although I read them with a sense of foreboding as it seemed that something awful would happen to wreck their unspoiled paradise. When compared to the real world, it was easy to see why Liga would choose to live in Heaven instead of facing the harsh realities of life, especially when her past is taken into account.

The characters in this book were numerous, and oftentimes, it was hard to keep them straight in my mind; however, all of the characters were flawed and their actions seemed realistic. I especially liked Liga’s daughters, Urdda and Branza. They had never faced the realities of the real world, and when they were confronted with them head-on, it was interesting to see how they reacted.

Additionally, Tender Morsels brings interesting philosophical and moral questions to the table that will leave the reader thinking about them for awhile. For example, is it better to be safe, or is it better to take chances and live your life to the fullest, even if things don’t always go your way?

This book is definitely not for everyone, but if you enjoy dark fairytales with moral and ethical dilemmas, unique world building, and strong, deeply flawed characters, you may enjoy Tender Morsels.

Rating: 3/5

Read-alikeThe Book of Lost Things - John Connolly

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

“Everybody wanted to be the hero of their own story. Nobody wanted to be comic relief.”

The Magician King – Lev Grossman (The Magicians, Book 2) 
400 pages (13 Discs) 
Genre: Contemporary, Magic 

*Spoilers for The Magicians abound after this point, so if you haven’t read it yet, proceed with caution.* 

Summary: Quentin and his friends have left the hallowed halls of Brakebills and have entered the world of Fillory, where they are treated as kings and queens of the realm. For once, everything seems to be going right, until Quentin becomes a bit bored and decides to embark upon a quest that will take him farther than he’s ever gone before. Will he find the adventure he’s looking for? 

Review: The first book in this series, The Magicians, had an incredibly amount of hype surrounding it, but I was left with an overall feeling of apathy after finishing it. To me, it was a bit uneven, as I loved some parts and loathed others, yet I was still intrigued enough to find out how things would progress in The Magician King. Fortunately, I enjoyed this book much more than its predecessor. 

I ended up borrowing The Magician King in an audio format from the library, and I’ve very glad I did. The narrator was excellent, and I found his voice to be exciting and engaging, hitting just the right notes in the correct places. It took me awhile to finish this as it was absolutely massive (13 discs!), but I’m really glad I stuck it out because I was thoroughly entertained the whole time. 

The quest, the predominant portion of the book, was intriguing and exciting, and I liked following the whole crew on their adventures. Quentin and Julia happened upon many amazing characters, creatures, and magic along the way, and it was so fun to go with them on their journey. 

One of my favorite characters in this book was Julia, and I really enjoyed that her perspective was included frequently. Julia was extremely unique and complex, and her depressed state seemed very authentic, especially when everything that had occurred in her life was taken into account. The underground scene in which she was involved was also rather intriguing, and I loved discovering more about it as the story went on. 

I also really enjoyed the introduction of the character Poppy. Poppy added a wonderful dynamic to the group, and the scenes she was in were definitely among my favorites. I appreciated how smart, savvy, and sassy she was, and I thought it was great that she had no problem telling people exactly what was on her mind. 

As was the case in the last book, Quentin was my least favorite character, and his melodramatic whining throughout the entirety of the text was rather annoying. Everything in the world was handed to him on a silver platter and he didn’t appreciate any of it, and instead, lamented about not having enough adventure. You just stumbled into the world that you have been daydreaming about since you were a kid, and you’re still not happy? Are you kidding me? 

On the whole, though, I found The Magician King to be a fun read full of magic and wonder. If you liked the first book, or if you enjoy Harry Potter or The Chronicles of Narnia, you will probably like this book, too! 

Rating: 3.5/5 

Read-alikes: Harry Potter – J.K. Rowling, Chronicles of Narnia – C.S. Lewis

Friday, April 12, 2013

"A person's a person, no matter how small."

A few weeks ago, I finished up my second  First and Second Grade Book Club. Since Dr. Seuss’ birthday was on March 2nd, I chose Horton Hears a Who! as our book, as I felt that the kids could relate to how even though you can be overlooked when you're small, you should still speak up because you're opinions still matter.  Also, Horton is awesome.

I think I mentioned this in my first posting on this topic, but the kids opted to read the book together as a group instead of taking it home to read by themselves, and that format seems to work really well for us. They were very attentive to this story, and they’d often yell out guesses as to what they thought would happen next. 

After we finished reading, I asked them questions that had a definitive answer to gauge their comprehension, and I also posed some questions that were more open-ended, just so they could think a bit more. The kids I work with are very bright, so stepping up my question game was a must this time around. For example, one of the questions I asked was which character they would choose to be and why. Like the kids themselves, their answers were incredibly varied, and these type of questions allowed the quieter kids to feel more comfortable participating, too. I’ll definitely be asking more questions of this nature next time. 

 Our discussion went a bit longer than it did last time, which is absolutely wonderful, so I gave the kids two options for their activity: either we’d make a craft or we could play book bingo. They unanimously voted for book bingo, so I pulled out the pieces and we started playing. I made special Horton bingo boards that corresponded to key words in the text (like ears, Horton, “a person’s a person no matter how small,” etc), and as they covered the clues on their boards, I asked the kids to remind me why each was important. They did a fantastic job remembering everything we talked about, and they were so excited to get their prizes (a few Dr. Seuss books, and for those that didn’t get a book, some other small prizes.) 
My Bingo Board! Try not to be jealous of my super awesome photography skills.

Even though we didn’t have enough time for the craft, I let them take it home with them, and they were very happy about that. I saw various incarnations of Horton crafts around the web, but this one was my favorite, and I knew I had to use it: Awesome Horton Craft. I ended up drawing my own elephant trunk, cutting out the place where the kids would put Horton’s clover in said trunk, and used a pipecleaner, sparkly pom, and a small piece of tissue paper to make the clover. To differentiate it from the original project, I wrote "If you lived on the clover, what would you tell Horton?" across the top, and allowed space for them to write their responses underneath it.
Here's mine. Maybe I should take a better picture of this.

Ultimately, this program turned out really well. The only thing I wish I could’ve changed is simply having more time to get through everything I planned, but I guess this isn’t such a bad problem to have, as too many activities are much better than not having enough. 

I will leave you with this...
The kids get a snack when they come to book club, so I tried my best to make flower cookies. This is how they turned out. A for effort?

Monday, April 8, 2013

“Woo woo, secret vampire stuff!”

Dead Until Dark – Charlaine Harris (Sookie Stackhouse #1) 
260 pages 
Genre: Paranormal 

Summary: Sookie Stackhouse is just your average waitress in a small town, but her life begins to change when she starts a relationship with a vampire named Bill. Bill makes her happier than she’s ever been, and things are finally going her way…until a string of murders rock her tiny town. Can these events be stopped, or will Sookie be the next victim? 

Review: In all honesty, I was pretty sure I was going to hate this book after the first few pages; however, I’ve never seen True Blood and I’m one of those people who have to read the book before watching the show/movie, so I pressed on. Fortunately, things began to pick up towards the middle portion of Dead until Dark, and while some of the plot elements made me roll my eyes, I was completely absorbed in this book from that point onward; I may have even stayed up late to finish it. 

Sookie wasn’t my favorite protagonist ever, but I did think her mind reading ‘disability’ was pretty cool. It was really interesting that she could hone in on certain people, and I liked that sometimes she couldn’t read people at all. Her romance with Bill seemed a bit rushed, especially when her virginal background is taken into consideration, but their relationship kept me turning the pages to see what would happen next, even if I skipped over the sex scenes because they were a bit awkward.

I also really liked that vampires were not forced to hide in society, but rather, people knew that they existed with absolute certainty. The vampire groupies were an interesting addition to the story, and the subtle details, like manufactured blood, made perfect sense in the world Harris created. 

On the whole, I wish the side characters were developed more, especially Gran and Jason. I was intrigued by both of these characters, and shedding a bit more insight into each of them definitely would’ve added to my enjoyment of the book. Perhaps more character development occurs in the latter books of this series. 

The mystery component was really well done, and I was on the edge of my seat wondering when they would find the next victim and who that person would be. For me, this was the portion of Dead until Dark that shined the most. 

If you’re looking for something fun and you enjoy vampire tales, give Dead until Dark a try. I may read more of this series, and I’ll definitely be watching True Blood sometime soon.

Rating: 3/5

Friday, April 5, 2013

"Some people have reasons for doing things, and don’t just go wherever they’re told or drift whichever way they’re pushed.”

The Splendor Falls – Rosemary Clement-Moore 
513 pages 
Genre: YA, Paranormal 

Summary: Sylvie Davis, the youngest dancer to ever earn a lead role in her NYC Company’s production, had a devastating injury that forced her to quit dance. Heartbroken over the loss of her passion and trying to decide what to do next, Sylvie’s parents send her to Alabama, her deceased father’s home, to spend time with family she’s never met in hopes that her discontent will finally abate. Strange things are afoot in this small town, however, that add even more intrigue and uncertainty to her already confused life. Will she find out what’s causing all of these things to happen, and will she finally be able to create a life without dance? 

Review: For the past few months, I’ve only been reading books I own, instead of checking them out at the library or borrowing them from friends. Not only has this been kicking my TBR pile’s butt, but it also had me on an awesome streak where I’ve genuinely enjoyed everything I was reading. Sadly, the majestic reading train of glory has halted for an unexpected delay, as I didn’t enjoy The Splendor Falls as much as I had anticipated I would. 

I was really pumped to read The Splendor Falls, as the premise sounded so promising, but for me, it failed in execution. I never really connected with Sylvie, the narrator, so perhaps that explains my struggle with this book. At the beginning of The Splendor Falls, my heart went out to Sylvie as she grappled with the loss of her career, but it seemed like her feelings about it fell by the wayside much too quickly, especially since the story was told in the span of about three weeks. Yes, it’s important not to dwell and it’s great that she was able to think of other things, but her passion was taken away from her. Shouldn’t she have been upset about it for a little bit longer? When I think of my own passions and the prospect of them being taken from me, I feel like my mind would constantly dwell on it in a continuous loop of gloom for much longer than three weeks, even if I was doing other things, but maybe Sylvie is able to mentally bounce back quicker than I am? Either way, it is definitely commendable that she was able to do so.

I also didn’t really like the focus on her dog, Gigi. Don’t get me wrong: I absolutely love dogs, but with everything else going on in the story, Gigi’s constant appearance in every scene just didn’t make much sense to me. Instead of focusing on her, it would’ve been wonderful to see some of the other characters that were crucial to the plot, especially Rhys, Sylvie’s father, and the elusive Teen Council, get developed more fully so the reader could get a fuller grasp on their motivations. 

As much as I didn’t like some aspects of this book, there were also a few things that worked really well for me. For one, the character, Rhys, was really interesting. As I noted previously, I wish the reader could’ve learned more about him, but I did enjoy the scenes he was in, and his story was really thought-provoking. I wasn’t too crazy about the instalove that existed between him and Sylvie as it didn’t seem all that authentic to me, even with the explanation (remember, this book took place over the course of three-ish weeks), but it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the character and my wish to know more about him. 

The paranormal aspects of the story were pretty cool, too, and I wish there was more of it. The guy lurking in the window was sufficiently creepy, and the story about the girl left me eagerly turning the pages so I could find out more about her. 

While this book didn’t quite work for me, paranormal fans who are looking for a book that takes place in the Deep South may enjoy The Splendor Falls

Rating: 2/5 

Read-alikes: The Girl Who Chased the Moon – Sarah Addison Allen, Mediator series – Meg Cabot

Monday, April 1, 2013

“I want everyone to meet you. You're my favorite person of all time.”

Eleanor and Park – Rainbow Rowell
320 pages
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance, Realistic Fiction

Summary: Eleanor isn’t your typical heroine. In fact, she’s a little bit awkward, a little bit overweight, and has the craziest red hair you’ve ever seen. On her first day of school, after nobody will let her sit next to them on the bus, a boy named Park moves over a bit to give her his extra seat, but like everyone else, looks at Eleanor with derision. Park is pretty nerdy himself and knows he’s hanging by a thread as far as being bothered by bullies is concerned, so he really has to be careful about whom he aligns himself with. Will they ever find common ground?

Review: I’ve read a lot of positive reviews for Eleanor and Park, so it probably goes without saying (but I’m obviously going to say it anyway) that I was pretty excited to read this book. Ultimately, I really liked it and am glad I moved it up on my TBR list.

One of the biggest strengths of Eleanor and Park was definitely the characters themselves. I thought it was really great that Eleanor and Park weren’t the type of people that elicit envious glances from everyone around them, but rather, were normal teenagers trying their best to make it through high school without too many embarrassing incidents. While Park’s actions often made me mad in the beginning of the book, it made perfect sense that he would act the way he did towards Eleanor. In high school, it seems like so many people want to just blend into the background so they aren’t targets, so the scorn he volleyed at Eleanor didn’t really seem out of place.

Similarly, Eleanor was incredibly compelling. I liked that she was a real girl that others could relate to, instead of the picture of perfection that is often portrayed in YA. Her story was complex and sad, and I was rooting for her throughout the entire book. In the same vein, her family dynamics were interesting and distressing, and I often turned the pages in disbelief at the horror she endured.

The development of the relationship between Eleanor and Park was also fun to watch. It was great to see their relationship evolve, especially since they both seemed so alone in the world before they found each other. The natural progression seemed so genuine, and it was easy to for the reader to observe what they felt for one another. See, everyone, books/comics can bring people together!

I also really liked that this book was set in the 80s. It isn’t very often that I read something set during this period of time, which is really a shame because it is so unique and is one of my favorite eras to read about. The emphasis on music was also pretty great. Whenever a band was mentioned, especially The Smiths or Joy Division, I would give a little whoop of delight because I’ve always enjoyed their music, too.

The twist at the end involving Eleanor’s family left me reeling, and my heart absolutely ached for her. The clues were there all along, and once I pieced everything together, it made me feel so sad for Eleanor. Park's reaction was so authentic, and as my heart ached for Eleanor, it broke for Park.

If you’re looking for a well-written, realistic book that takes place in an oft-ignored decade, definitely give Eleanor and Park a try.

Rating: 4/5