Letter to Queen Rainbow Rowell/ Carta para la Reina Rainbow Rowell

Dear Rainbow Rowell,

Fair warning: what follows is an honest, inevitably sappy, slightly cliche account of one mere reader whose views on love and other important-sounding stuff were re-focused after being fortunate enough to read the one and only Eleanor and Park.

Emotionally wrecked is how I would honestly describe my state after finishing it — in the best possible way.

I started Eleanor and Park with few expectations, but sure that I would at least enjoy it, if not straight up love it, since I was already sold on anything signed Rainbow Rowell after binge reading Fangirl and Carry On. I feel like there’s nothing worthy enough to be put on paper about this novel — it can’t even be called a novel — it’s a full-blown experience. So, imagine my surprise when I see my two beloved wonders on the list of banned books of 2016, due to the book’s “offensive language”. I don’t mean to sound excessively or irrationally outraged, but it is tough to rebel against an absurd decision like this in an orderly, peaceful manner.

But enough of that. I don’t want to blab too much about side-notes on this experience. Rather, I want to acknowledge all that Eleanor and Park have, maybe not taught me, but reminded me of. Sometimes the knowledge that is ingrained in us gets lost in the background, pushed there by the loudness of our semi-chaotic lives. It all sounds very vague, I know. Let me get a little more specific.

We’re supposed to inherently know that we, as individuals, come first. Does this sound slightly selfish? Yes, but it’s that level of selfishness that crosses into self-preservation. We’re supposed to know we can always leave a situation we’re not comfortable in — although, what overcomes that knowledge is, what if we upset those around us by leaving or create an inconvenience? No, we can’t have that, so maybe you should stay and take it, ignore it, figure it out. We’re told that blood is thicker than water. Then again, I guarantee you there’s not one person out there who hasn’t questioned this before. Even if you have the greatest parents in this world, brothers, sisters, cousins, whatever. You’ve had at least one moment of doubt, when you thought, why do I put up with them? If someone told you family won’t ever judge you, it is the biggest lie you were ever told. It’s fine if you believe this, though, maybe you’re on the same wavelength and you’ve only had to deal with mild disagreements. Just wait until something big enough comes along. You’ll get split apart in seconds — and that’s OK, because ultimately, you’re all you really have. So you better be happy with yourself.

That’s the pessimistic, bitter part of me talking (but you have to admit, there’s some truth to my above rant). I try to hold it under wraps as much as I can, or it’ll swallow me whole. Instead, I tell myself maybe we’re all lucky enough to meet one Park, or one Eleanor, in our lifetimes. Although, I’m guessing, when you have something as whole as these two had, everything else seems mundane, not quite right, in comparison.

I guess all we have is hope, which — to be honest — majorly sucks because hope just makes you look forward to something you may never have. Again with the ugly pessimism; better to not expect anything and not be disappointed, then have all these grand, happy ideas about what your future may hold and then be disappointed because guess what, you’re not that special.

How does this all relate to Eleanor and Park? To be fair, I don’t actually know. What I do know, though, is that it made me ask myself questions — about myself, about my friends, family— where is my life going, what do I want, what do I value? Isn’t that what a book, art really, is meant to do? So thank you for that.

Your dedicated fan/reader,

Stefania Moldovanu

Querida Rainbow Rowell,

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