Every night this week I’ve had to fight the urge to cry myself to sleep, and let me tell you it has not been easy. Well, it’s been made a little easier by the fact that it takes a lot of effort to cry yourself to sleep. I’ve been known to cry myself awake. When I decide to get a good cry on, I really work it. It takes a lot of effort.
That’s not to say it hasn’t taken some effort not to cry each night this week because it has. See, I’m reading Eleanor & Park and ever single page breaks my fucking heart right in two. Let me count the ways.
First: look at that cover. It’s like the editorial team got together and said “hey, let’s see if we can make a book Jodi Chromey would read.” Then because I’m predictable and they like a challenge they’re all “and let’s not include a mix tape. Go!”
Two: This book takes place in 1986 and there is a lot of talk of music. Specifically mix-tape type music. And comicbooks.
Three: Eleanor is a fat sixteen-year-old girl with a gaggle of siblings living in an unstable home. Also they are super poor. If she was 6’3″ and had brown hair, her name could be Jodi.
Four: The writing so totally nails what it was like to be an awkward teenager in 1986 that it hurts. It hurts in the way John Cougar Mellencamp would call “so good.” Every other page I have to stop, squeeze my eyes shut, and spend a little time reveling in the perfectness.
It’s very nearly killing me, and like I said it makes me want to cry. This book is hitting a nerve that never goes away. That I’m sixteen and nobody’s going to love me or understand me and I’m so messed up nerve. And each night it’s not even that I want to cry because I remember so well the pain of that awful time period. But I want to cry because I survived it and that makes me feel good and I want to hug Eleanor and sixteen-year-old Jodi and tell them that it gets better. And I want to cry because even though I don’t know Rainbow Rowell at all I’m so happy that she wrote this book that so perfectly captures what it was like to be that kind of Eleanor girl.
It’s not often that I take to the pixels of I Will Dare to espouse the wonderfulness of a book I haven’t finished yet and if this one goes south in the last 130 pages I might really cry myself to sleep. But for right now I’m so totally in love that I spend all my days thinking about spending the night with with Eleanor & Park.