Why I read it:Funny, hopeful, foulmouthed, sexy, and tear-jerking (Kirkus Reviews). Sounds like my kind of book. Seriously. Who wouldn’t want to read that? If that wasn’t enough to pique my interest, there’s the first page…
What I liked: He’d stopped trying to bring her back.
She only came back when she felt like it, in dreams and lies and broken-down deja-vu.
Like, he’d be driving to work, and he’d see a girl with red hair standing on the corner–and he’d swear, for half a choking moment, that it was her.
Then he’d see that the girl’s hair was more blond than red.
And that she was holding a cigarette… and wearing a Sex Pistols T-shirt.
Eleanor hated the Sex Pistols.
Standing beside him until he turned his head. Lying next to him just before he woke up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough.
Eleanor ruined everything (p. 1).
When Eleanor was a little girl, she’d thought her mom looked like a queen… all her bones seemed more purposeful than other people’s. Like they weren’t just there to hold her up; they were there to make a point…
Eleanor looked a lot like her.
But not enough.
Eleanor looked like her mother through a fish tank. Rounder and softer. Slurred. Where her mother was statuesque, Eleanor was heavy. Where her mother was finely drawn, Eleanor was smudged (p. 18)
That must be Eleanor’s mom, park thought, she looked just like her. but sharper and with more shadows. like Eleanor, but taller. like Eleanor, but tired. like Eleanor, after the fall (p. 188).
Holding Eleanor’s hand was like holding a butterfly (p. 71).
“Well, she is kind of weird, isn’t she?”
Park didn’t have the energy to be angry. He sighed and let his head fall back on the chair.
His dad kept talking. “Isn’t that why you like her?” (p. 144)
“Why do you even like me?”
“I don’t like you,” he said. “I need you… I think it’s got as much to do with your hair being red and your hands being soft… and the fact that you smell like homemade birthday cake” (pp. 109-110).
“I don’t like you. Park,” she said, sounding for a second like she actually meant it. “I… think I live for you.”
He closed his eyes and pressed his head back into the 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 (p. 111).
“Nothing, really. I just want to be alone with you for a minute.”
He pulled her to the back of the driveway, where they were almost completely hidden by a line of trees and the RV and the garage.
“Seriously?” she said. “That was so lame.”
“I know,” he said, turning to her. “Next time, I’ll just say, ‘Eleanor, follow me down this dark alley, I want to kiss you” (p. 166).
There’s SO much more good, and it’s SO much better than I could possibly convey in excerpts.
What sucked: That it ended. I wasn’t ready to leave them yet.
Having said all that: Best book I’d read that year. Hands down. Solid storytelling through and through.
Originally published June fifth, ‘thirteen.