I may be a little late with this one – but one final Banned Books week post!
This is another book that has been challenged because it’s “Unsuited for age-level,” and it has been removed from a few locations (including one removal that was reconsidered when it was realized the objections were actually about fan art, and not the book itself).
The reasons vary – the one cited on the ALA list is because of its language, and you can’t deny that swearing is scattered about, like, a lot. The author, Rainbow Rowell addresses this point very nicely, and I have to agree with her assessment. The use of swearing was, first of all, very real. And second, helped to create the atmosphere that these kids were living in. It became a part of the stage setting.
I really liked the book – for a number of reasons but one of them was the unique approach to the point-of-view of the story. The narration switches between Eleanor and Park, sometimes for as short as a few sentences, other times a few pages. We see the world through both of their eyes, and to me it helped to draw me closer to the characters. And in some ways, my own self. As Eleanor sat hating certain things about herself, Park would ponder on the ways those same things drew him in. I wonder what it would have meant to me to read something like that when I was younger, to see the ways that the things I hold as my greatest flaws – the things I like least about myself – might be things that someone else would love.
There are so many articles about the banning of this book, challenges made to it, and responses. Personally I find the idea of banning it from shelves due to the language to be ridiculous (what teenagers aren’t at least hearing swear words?), and if it was challenged due to harsh content – like topic of abuse – I feel it’s equally ridiculous. These are topics that teenagers DEAL with in their lives, how does pretending it doesn’t exist help anyone?
What are your thoughts?
2 thoughts on “Banned Books Week: Eleanor and Park”
I absolutely loved this book, and a lot of that was because it WAS so real. It was easy to relate to in so many ways, and beautifully written.
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Teens can’t read things about their actual lives! /sarcasm
Related: My partner and I were debating the merits of a high-school version of the Heathers musical, which is about high schoolers. The swearing, drinking, drugs, eating disorders, and (to some degree) male characters sexually harassing the main character have been removed, but the essential core of the plot (teens murdering their peers) is still there.