Charm & Strange vs. Eleanor & Park (AKA The Battle of the Ampersand)

13 Feb

What do you look for in a story? Is it the characters Rainbow Rowell has eleanor and partkjpgcreated in Eleanor & Park or does the appeal come from a page turner like Stephanie Kuehn’s Charm & Strange that keeps you reading long past your bedtime?

Yesterday morning I was very excited to wake up to find new clips from an upcoming movie I am very anxious to see. But before I could watch these new clips, my coworker and I had a great discussion about spoilers, whether they come from a trailer/review sharing all the best parts or even just being told a twist exists.  We discussed how these things can completely change the experience for you. For example, when telling a friend to read Gone Girl, I talked up the appeal of this big twist which then ruined that moment for her.

Are you wondering if there is a point to be found here? I promise there is. Charm & Strange is one of those books in which it is hard to describe the story without giving away major plot points and twists. Some descriptions of this book can be misleading, there is a lot of talk of wolves and some have even labeled it as paranormal. Charm & Strange is more than that; it is a psychological story that allows the back story of the main character, Win, to slowly build while also watching how it is affecting his daily life. The author takes advantage of alternating timelines, a few science facts, and a bit of magic realism to pull this story together and keep you wondering what the truth is behind the tragedies of Win’s life.

Charm & Strange will stay with you and is a title you will want to discuss with others.

I feel differently about Eleanor & Park. It’s been a year since I initially read E&P and I decided to read it again for this tournament because the story didn’t stay with me. I remember the 80s aspect (who doesn’t love a good mix tape) and the love story. The 1980s setting is a large appeal of the novel but isn’t vital to the telling of their story; it is more about who Eleanor and Park and their story. Rainbow Rowell is coming off a great year with 2 bestselling novels and a Printz honor for this title.

The characters in these novels all face major issues and while it is easier to root for the love story, it is hard to ignore the struggles of Win’s life. In the end, it came down to the impact of the story and how the characters stayed with me after it was all over.

WINNER: Charm & Strange

charm and strange


Posted by on February 13, 2014 in Book Review, Tournament of Books


Tags: , , , ,

3 responses to “Charm & Strange vs. Eleanor & Park (AKA The Battle of the Ampersand)

  1. Dawn Abron

    February 13, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    Totally didn’t see that one coming. I’m picking the winner in the last bracket and I just knew E&P was going to make it to the end, now…

  2. Denise

    February 13, 2014 at 5:30 pm

    I told Mary she was probably going to get me killed with my bracket but I hope it makes the ending more interesting for you!

    • dawnabron

      February 13, 2014 at 11:07 pm

      I tried to guess the outcome to see what I would be reading. Based on these results, boy was I wrong! Lol


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