Book Review : Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

About the Book:

Eleanor & Park

Eleanor is the new girl in town, and she’s never felt more alone. All mismatched clothes, mad red hair and chaotic home life, she couldn’t stick out more if she tried. Then she takes the seat on the bus next to Park. Quiet, careful and, in Eleanor’s eyes, impossibly cool, Park’s worked out that flying under the radar is the best way to get by. Slowly, steadily, through late-night conversations and an ever-growing stack of mixed tapes, Eleanor and Park fall in love. They fall in love the way you do the first time, when you’re 16, and you have nothing and everything to lose .. Set over the course of one school year in 1986, Eleanor and Park is funny, sad, shocking and true – an exquisite nostalgia trip for anyone who has never forgotten their first love.

My Thoughts:

This is a story of friendship, life as a teenager and falling in love for the first time. Eleanor is shy and quiet, forced to deal with a crazy step-father and a mother who no longer tries to take the side of her children. She is also the eldest of four siblings and is constantly under scrutiny from the younger ones. We observe her as she navigates her way as the new girl in town and in school. Her life takes an interesting turn when she sits next to Park on the school bus.

The story then follows these two as they start to interact and discover their common interests while developing newer ones. This story is sweet and nostalgic, just like the author promises. It will remind you of the days of forging new friendships, making memories, sharing books and games. However towards the middle of the story, it gets a little slow mostly due to the repeated routines of our main characters. They only seem to be meeting each other everyday, enjoying silent conversations at school and spending time at Park’s home.

A part of the story that I truly enjoyed was when Park’s parents meet and start to accept Eleanor. They include her for dinner and his mother even tries to give her a makeover of sorts. Towards the end, Park’s father, who up until then seemed to dislike him to some extent, also pitches in to help the children, finally accepting that he is proud of who his son has become. It is indeed a story of self-discovery as well since the characters must break out of their comfort zones and find their way. They take decisions that will change their lives at that point and they love unconditionally and without holding back.

All in all, it is a decent read, rather slow, but if you plough through, you will end up with a smile on your face, possibly reminiscent of your own lives.

Book Review: Say Goodbye for Now by Catherine Ryan Hyde

About the Book:

Say Goodbye for Now

On an isolated Texas ranch, Dr. Lucy cares for abandoned animals. The solitude allows her to avoid the people and places that remind her of the past. Not that any of the townsfolk care. In 1959, no one is interested in a woman doctor. Nor are they welcoming Calvin and Justin Bell, a newly arrived African American father and son.

When Pete Solomon, a neglected twelve-year-old boy, and Justin bring a wounded wolf-dog hybrid to Dr. Lucy, the outcasts soon find refuge in one another. Lucy never thought she’d make connections again, never mind fall in love. Pete never imagined he’d find friends as loyal as Justin and the dog. But these four people aren’t allowed to be friends, much less a family, when the whole town turns violently against them.

With heavy hearts, Dr. Lucy and Pete say goodbye to Calvin and Justin. But through the years they keep hope alive…waiting for the world to catch up with them.

My Thoughts:

The phrase, ‘Say goodbye for now’, also the title of the book, is a recurring point throughout the book. It is a wonderful thing that the title of a book has been incorporated throughout the plot and brings out the overall theme or point of the story.

I picked up this book after reading ‘Ask Him Why’. I really enjoyed the author’s style of writing and couldn’t wait to read more. I was most surprised when upon starting this story, I found that the style of writing, the tone and pace of the story were different! This made me enjoy the book all the more apart from the wonderful plot.

The story focuses on two young boys, in their early teens, who meet by chance and decide that due to their way of thinking, that they should be friends. It was rather unfortunate that the times they lived in frowned upon friendship between them. With a town set against the newly arrived African American father and son duo, a lady doctor who cares for abandoned and hurt animals, and a young American boy who seeks her out when he finds a hurt wolf-dog lying by the side of the highway, there is a lot that can happen when we bring these four people together.

The author takes her time to bring out the personalities of each of these principal characters, as well as their backgrounds. She helps us understand what makes them tick and how they became the way they are in the present time. The author elaborates a little on the town and it’s mindset and perception of these main characters. Nothing is simple in the lives of these four people and the author takes her time in making things right. The story is told alternatively from the points of view of Pete and Dr. Lucy. The reader will get to know them very well and will feel as though even they are friends with them. As pleasing and simple as they are, they are not perfect and have their dark moments.

Pete is thoughtful and advanced in the way his mind thinks and instead of being shushed by the adults he comes to know, they encourage and nurture his inquisitive mind. His relationship with all the characters and his thoughts and feelings help to shape the direction the story moves in. Justin though different, understand Pete and plays his part in this story to perfection. The simple chemistry between Dr. Lucy and Calvin is shown with understated simplicity. It just happens, and there is no confusion or apology. The characters take all situations in their stride, including the fact that a time will come when they can be together and until then, they just have to keep living on.

The simple tones and calm manner in which things are dealt with make this story all that more pleasing. This was a wonderful read and I fell in love with every aspect of this story. The title, used extensively as demanded by the plot, will help the reader see that there is no need to end a relationship of any kind, there are times when it can just be postponed, with some understanding, care and love.

Just say Goodbye for Now!

Walking down memory lane

Let’s take a walk down memory lane and check out some really good books to read during your childhood. This post will be restricted to a few of my favorite books. I will do a follow-up post later to add on more books or else this will be a never-ending list. The books are mentioned in no particular order.

Books by Enid Blyton:

Enid Blyton is definitely my favourite childhood author. I have read almost all the books written by her and can pick these books up, even now and read them all over again. They are filled with fun, light humour, adventure and so much happiness. They are delightful and she created so many characters, that it is difficult not to fall in love with at least some of them.

Find out more about her books at http://www.enidblytonsociety.co.uk/cave-of-books.php

Here are a list of series that are strongly recommended from the very bottom of my heart –

  • The St Clare’s series – A series of books chronicling the lives of girls studying at the boarding school St Clare’s. The books follow them through different years of study and the mischief they get up to brings out many a laugh. The main protagonists are the O’Sullivan twins.
  • The Malory Tower’s series – Similar in concept to the St Clare’s series, this is also a series about a boarding school. This series however follows the life of Darrell river’s as she works her way through each year of schooling along with the various kinds of girls she meets. A whole load of mischief awaits.

The above two series talk a lot about friendship, being truthful, faithful, finding oneself and growing up to be who you were meant to be.

  • The Famous Five – I am sure that most everyone knows of the Famous Five. Just mentioning the name of the series here should be enough of a memory trigger.
  • The Mystery Series (Five Find-Outers and Dog) – A series similar in style to that of the Famous Five, this series is still quite different. It consists of more adventure, disguises, investigation. If you haven’t read it yet, it is never too late!
  • The Adventure Series – A series of books about 4 children and the various adventures they end up on, though similar in the basic theme to the above two series, is once again quite different.
  • The Magic Faraway Tree – This book as well as the Folk of the Faraway Tree, is quite different from Blyton’s other books. These talk about various kinds of people who live in the tree and is quite enchanting to read. It will enhance a child’s imagination to a higher extent.

The Nancy Drew Mysteries by Carolyn Keene:

A famous series about a young girl, in her teens, interested in solving mysteries. She is accompanied by a group of friends and her boyfriend Ned. A rather charming set of books, this is definitely a series that one should have grown up with.

The Hardy Boys series by Franklin W. Dixon:

A YA series about two brothers in their late teens involved in solving mysteries, this counts for quite a fascinating read.

The Three Investigators by Robert Arthur Jr.:

 A YA series about three boys, friends, who are vastly different in their abilities, come together to start an investigating agency complete with visiting cards for them all.

The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot:

A YA series about a girl who learns that she is a princess and has to deal with the responsibilities that come with the same. Written in the form of diary entries, this is a fun filled read.

Look out for the next post which will have more books. In the mean time, add on to this by sharing the various books you have read in your childhood and would like to recommend to me and to others.

Book Review: Summer Sacrifice by Holly Hinton

About the Book:

21873863

Three hundred years ago, the Great Goddess sent a storm to destroy mankind. She nearly succeeded. One Island survived.

These days, the Goddess stops the spread of evil by sacrificing the Island’s rotten teenage souls. Or so the story goes…

When Jamie Tuff survives her Taking, she thinks her worst nightmares are behind her. But then her soul starts wandering into other people’s bodies, and she discovers that the Island harbours a deadly secret.

Now, she must save her little world from a fate worse than— well, worse than what the Goddess has already done to it.

Join Jamie Tuff and friends on their adventures through land, sea, and sky, in a world where stars walk and Halfhawks fly.

Find out more about the author at her website: http://www.hollyhinton.com

My Thoughts:

 The story follows Jamie Tuff as she discovers the truth behind the happenings at the island as well as discovers the truth of her powers. Jamie and her friends set out to save the souls that have been taken. The story is well written and has a simple plot that will keep the reader entertained. The book is more for children in the teens and such and it will appeal to their idea of fantasy and magic.

The characters are easy to relate with and well thought out. Each character has some role to play in this story and the plot is nicely brought together at the end. All the twists and turns in the story are tied up with a sensible explanation at the end. The story is one of self-discovery as well as the strength of friendship and trust. There are some interesting lessons that a teenager or child can learn form this story and the author has brought them out really well. The author has also briefly touched upon the existence of superstitions and the kind of effect they can have on people.

Overall this is a wonderful story to read for all children out there who enjoy fantasy fiction and any story with magic in it.

The Secrets of Ice Cream Success by A D Hartley

About the Book:

22589546

Carlo never wanted to take over the family ice cream business, at fourteen he already had school and the terror of talking to girls to occupy his ever anxious mind, but when the odious Haverton Hill tried to buy the factory from him after his father’s death, an unexpected sense of defiance arose.

With the “help” of his friends, Carlo sets out to cope with incompetent staff, sabotage, strange goings on in the basement, a book with a mind of its own and the knowledge that those little specks in the vanilla ice cream may not be as innocent as they seem… Oh, and he’s just been asked to a party by a girl! Summer holidays were not supposed to be this interesting.

Will the secrets Carlo uncovers within the factory lead to success or failure?

My Thoughts:

To be frank I was not entirely sure what to expect from this book and I did start reading it with the preconceived notion that it may be boring. However it turns out I thoroughly enjoyed this story and would happily recommend it to everyone!

This is a nice and funny story about a young boy of fourteen who is suddenly facing the task of running his father’s ice cream factory. The story highlights all the emotions that run through a fourteen year old’s mind in such a situation when he has just lost his father and has been left the family business as part of his father’s will. He is to be taken care of by his father’s friend and partner Mr Randolph who assumed that the company would be left to him. Accompanied by his four friends, Carlo sets out to bring the company back to the top and show their competition Mr Hill that Leodoni’s is indeed the best ice cream.

There is a slight twist in the story and this adds more mystery and makes it more interesting to read. The reader is sure to enjoy following Carlo and his friends as they behave like any other fourteen year old, running around and assuming they can do anything while at the same time steeping up to support their friend and showing us what true friendship is. All the elements put together make this story delightful to read with all it’s ups and downs, fun moments and dark moments. For all those readers who have enjoyed Enid Blyton’s stories in their childhood, this story is not far behind. It is as good as they come and worth the read!