[Review] Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

This book has the most realistic characters ever. I like how imperfect Eleanor and Park are individually, and yet they are so perfect for each other. From the start, I already got so hooked that I kept on reading when I should be doing other things – like eating or sleeping. LOL. I just couldn’t get enough of them! I wanted to know what would happen next. It’s like every chapter is a cliff-hanger so you have to turn the next page immediately coz you’re dying to find out more.

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Actually, I could relate a bit to their love story. And I think everyone could. We all had that cute, innocent, young love back then. That boy that sits next to you or in front of you in class. Or, in my case, that boy who rode the same tricycle service as me back in elementary. That boy who lives in your neighborhood and steals glances at you as you pass him by. That boy who would pass a letter for you to your little brother… It was the kind of love that alerts the butterflies in your stomach – making them flutter around wildly. The kind of love that is pure and bittersweet. The kind of love that makes you smile for no reason and keeps you awake at night…

Eleanor is nothing like all those female protagonists in YA novels. I imagined her to be this ordinary-looking, chubby girl with wild, curly hair and sulky face. She’s no Bella Swan or America Singer. She’s not someone whom you’d see on the cover of a magazine… or the cover of anything, for that matter. She’s like that girl that you would have classes with but you would never really talk to, unless you needed to. Park Sheridan might have his cool circle of friends and he might’ve dated the ‘hottest’ girl in school, but I don’t think he’s ‘all that’. I think he was just lucky to have been included in that circle of friends. If he was not with them, he’d just be a typical Asian kid who would get bullied all the time. I do think he is charming, in a way, but not THAT handsome.

I just loved how their love story progressed. It was slow but not draggy. It was quick but not rushed. It was just right. Everything had just the right timing. Everything happened smoothly, albeit awkwardly. ^^ It leaves you hanging this time and then gives you so much the next.

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My fave moment was when Park finally decided to let Eleanor read his comic books and listen to his music. I had an enjoyable time imagining that scene, Eleanor stealing glances at the comic book and Park deliberately reading slowly to let her finish first. It was so adorable how they never really ‘talked’ to each other during the first few weeks. They just had this unspoken connection that helped them realize how much they like each other. And OMG when they first held hands — that made me kick and punch the air in delight!!! Their first kiss was even BETTER. I was so ecstatic with joy. Young love is so precious~

Every chapter has just the right amount of thrill, romance, drama, excitement and humor. The last few chapters were sprinkled with a moderate amount of ‘teenage hormones’, which is just normal and very realistic, I think. ^^ I mean, they might have liked the person inside the facade but you cannot dismiss the physical attraction. With teenagers, something is bound to happen of course…

Anyway, I just have to say I LOVE PARK’s mom! Hahaha! She is like the typical Korean mom. The way she talks, the way she acts and even her humor is so Korean. Hahaha! I also love the songs mentioned in the novel. I didn’t know much about them so I Googled and downloaded some. I fell in love with Joy Division’sLove will tear us apart” instantly!

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All in all, I guess it was just a simple story – they met, they fell in love, they faced some difficulties, they fight, they make up and then they break up in the end… It was genuine and simply heartrending. I said it before and I’ll say it again – it was so real, and that’s what got me so hooked. This book made me reminisce the old times… it helped me remember how it felt like to be truly in LOVE~ *sighs*

 credits: to whoever owns those adorable pictures… i love you guys ^^

It’s always SUNNY somewhere in the world. :D

Sunny [2011] – Korean Movie

TRAILER

A story of friendship, love, family and LIFE in general. This movie moved me so much. I won’t be able to get over the emotions and memories it conjured. T__T As someone who sucks at staying friends with (or more like keeping in touch with) my friends back from school and the neighborhoods I’ve left long ago, this movie certainly touched a nerve. It has a coming-of-age plot focusing on a group of friends who met when they were teenagers trying to get through junior high. It implies the restlessness of youth and implies different facets of a typical junior high student.

   

There’s the “queen bee” – which in Korea pretty much refers to the “best bully” or the “best fighter” in her year. Chunhwa, played by Kang Sora, was the leader and the one who took interest in the protagonist of the story — Shim Eunkyung played the shy, heavily-accented, transfer-student-from-the-province, Nami. Nami avoided getting bullied thanks to Chunhwa and her friends. Geum-ok is the bookish and studious one. She’s in-charge of buying them bread at lunch time. Timid and cool Suji, played by the equally gorgeous Min Hyorin, is the ‘face’ of the group. She didn’t like the idea of Nami joining their little group just like that. Bok-hee has the looks and the confidence to be what she always wanted to be — a beauty queen. NEVER touch her hair though. XD Nothing good ever comes out of Jin-hee’s mouth. She’s very frank and she ends her sentences not with a period, but with a foul swear word. Then there’s chubby and homely Jangmi who is sort of like the “Vice-leader”. She’s good in fighting too. These group of friends call themselves “SUNNY”.

They had fun through the good times and comforted each other through the bad times. They laughed, cried, fought, sung, and danced. I like how the simple yet tragic lives of these teenagers were emphasized and sprinkled with  a twist of comedy. An incident happened during their school festival, where they were supposed to perform their sing and dance number, and it left a scar so deep (no pun intended) in their friendship…

Fast forward to 25 years later…

The grownup Nami is living what seemed to be the ‘perfect’ life. She’s rich and she has a beautiful family. But her daughter won’t talk to her and her husband never stays at home for more than a day. She started living a double life when she met Chunhwa in a hospital. She has cancer and she’s not gonna last that long. This drove Nami to search for the members of SUNNY. It was not that easy but she was able to pull it off. One by one, she witnessed what had become of each of them. She didn’t realize that she was in for a rude awakening. She always thought her life was so-so but upon seeing her friends, she felt lucky. I like how the movie went back and forth from past to present. It was very nostalgic and a bit creative. Plus, the setting of the movie and the background music made it even more exciting and makes you remember the ‘past’ regardless of your generation.

   

I especially liked the romantic tension between Nami, Junho (played by Kim Shihoo <3) and Suji. I think it’s one of the highlights of their teenage years. It added color and zest to the plot. It made me look back to those ‘moments’ as well. The feeling of butterflies in your stomach, the stolen glances, the can’t-sleep-at-night-thinking-of-him-all-day scenarios and of course the HEARTBREAKING moment when you realized he likes YOUR friend. T___T

The movie gave my heartstrings a bittersweet tug and a sentimental feeling overwhelmed me. Sure, it’s nothing new. There was nothing spectacular about the story. But what made me love it even more is the fact that it showed ME — my life as a teenager and maybe my ‘future’ in its simplicity and accuracy. I think a lot of people can relate to this movie well. We all went through what the girls experienced here. We all felt their emotions. We all uttered the words that came out of their mouths. It was an effortless and genuine display of our lives. Or what is to become of (most of) us.

I felt terrified upon seeing what happened to most of them. Even the one who studied hard, worked hard and the one who was full of ambitions unexpectedly tripped and stumbled somewhere along the way. It only goes to show that what happens to your future depends on YOU. You decided. It is not predetermined for you. Even the smartest kid in school can end up  in a miserable state; the prettiest girl in school may not be able to get into a good relationship. The richest kid may end up in helpless and unhappy in a hospital bed. Thinking about that sent shivers down my spine. That’s exactly how I’m feeling right now. I felt like I’ve wasted too much time on trivial things before and I didn’t focus on my life’s goals… so here I am. *sigh* Sunny not only brought back the good and bad memories, it also dwells on what’s ahead of us — the unknown, the things we don’t want to deal with and the things we are dealing with right now.

  

This is definitely a movie I’d recommend to my elementary and highschool friends. AND I’d watch it with them if I could. 😀 I wasn’t able to remember the lines in the movie well but there was this one that really got to me. It was in Chunhwa’s letter, after she died, she told her friends something like “Those of us who became successful, don’t you dare ignore us or look down on us. Those who didn’t get lucky in life, don’t you dare hide from us or be ashamed of what you are.” Yeah. Something like that. Pretty self-explanatory. 😀

RATING: 4.5 stars out of 5.