And I’m absolutely loving it. I’m only the tenth or so chapter (the chapters are really short) but already I’ve been pulled in by Eleanor, Park and the unpretentious writing. It’s a story about first love, and I know (from reading experience only), that with that moniker follows all the pain and angst that is apparently inevitably linked to the first and doomed love.
But at this point, it is the cutest damned story and I can’t help but sigh happily over it. I can’t help but roll my eyes in a gushing manner over it. And yes, there is a way to roll your eyes in a gushing manner. It’s almost like an affectionate eye-roll, but it involves that extra I-didn’t-know-that-anything-could-be-so-sweet tilt. I think I’m going to have perfected it by the time I finish with this book.
“They were almost to school when he broke the silence.
‘Did you listen?’
She nodded, letting her eyes climb as high as his shoulders.
‘Did you like it?’ he asked.
She rolled her eyes. ‘Oh my God. It was . . . just, like . . .’ – she spread out all her fingers – ‘so awesome.’
‘Are you being sarcastic? I can’t tell.’
She looked up at his face, even though she knew how that was going to feel, like someone was hooking her insides out through her chest.
‘No. It was awesome. I didn’t want to stop listening. That one song – is it “Love Will Tear Us Apart”?’
‘Yeah, Joy Division.’
‘Oh my God, that’s the best beginning to a song ever.’
He imitated the guitar and the drums.
‘Yeah, yeah, yeah,’ she said. ‘I just wanted to listen to those three seconds over and over.’
‘You could have.’ His eyes were smiling, his mouth only sort of.
‘I didn’t want to waste the batteries,’ she said.
He shook his head, like she was dumb.
‘Plus,’ she said, ‘I love the rest of it just as much, like the high part, the melody, the dahhh, dah-de-dah-dah, de-dahh, de dahhh.’
‘And his voice at the end,’ she said, ‘when he goes just a little bit too high . . . And then the very end, where it sounds like the drums are fighting it, like they don’t want the song to be over . . .’
Park made drum noises with his mouth: ‘ch-ch-ch, ch-ch-ch.’
‘I just want to break that song into pieces,’ she said, ‘and love them all to death.’
That made him laugh.
‘What about the Smiths?’ he asked.
‘I didn’t know who was who,’ she said.
‘I’ll write it down for you.’
‘I liked it all.’
‘Good,’ he said.
‘I loved it.’
He smiled, but turned away to look out the window. She looked down.
They were pulling into the parking lot. Eleanor didn’t want this new talking thing – like, really talking, back and forth and smiling at each other – stop.
‘And . . .’ she said quickly, ‘I love the X-Men. But I hate Cyclops.
He whipped his head back.
‘You can’t hate Cyclops. He’s team captain.’
‘God. So boring. I can’t even make myself read it. Whenever you bring Batman, I catch myself listening to Steve, or staring out window, wishing I was in hypersleep.’ The bus came to a stop.
‘Huh,’ Park said, standing up. He said it really judgmentally.
‘Now I know what you’re thinking when you stare out the window.’
‘No, you don’t,’ she said. ‘I mix it up.’
Everybody else was pushing down the aisle past them. Eleanor stood up, too.
‘I’m brining you The Dark Knight Returns,’ he said.
‘Only the least boring Batman story ever.’
‘The least boring Batman story ever, huh? Does Batman raise both eyebrows?’
He laughed again. His face completely changed when he laughed. He didn’t have dimples, exactly, but the sides of his face folded in on themselves, and his eyes almost disappeared.
‘Just wait,’ he said.
That morning, in English, Park noticed that Eleanor’s hair came to a soft red point at the back of her neck.
That afternoon, in history, Eleanor noticed that Park chewed on his pencil when he was thinking. And that the girl sitting behind him – what’s her name, Kim, with the giant breasts and the orange Esprit bag – obviously had a crush on him.
That night Park made a tape with the Joy Division song on it, over and over again.
He emptied all his handheld video games and Josh’s remote-control cars, and called his grandma to tell her that all he wanted for his birthday in November was double-A batteries.
Right? RIGHT? I am crippled by the sweetness. I didn’t know sweetness could be so deadly. I’ll let you know how it goes once I’ve come back from the dead.