Why You Should Read Eleanor And Park By Rainbow Rowell

Why You Should Read Eleanor And Park By Rainbow Rowell

Reasons to read this emotional journey.
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To kick off the new year, I decided to start with a book I've been meaning to read for awhile. I've already read "Carry On" and "Fangirl" by Rainbow Rowell and enjoyed both, so I ordered "Eleanor and Park" last month. I can't figure out why it took me so long to get to this book, because once I picked it up I couldn't put it down. Especially after coming out of my winter book slump, it felt great to speed read something like this. I could have finished it in one night if I didn't need sleep! Instead, I split it between two days.

"Eleanor and Park" starts off as a sort of typical contemporary romance novel; Eleanor is the new girl in school, and becomes a target for bullying. Park is one of the few who doesn't participate, and eventually befriends Eleanor. From there, their relationship grows. This normally wouldn't be my cup of tea. I'm not big on reading books that have romance as the main focus.

Yet, it's more than just two high schoolers forming a relationship. Both Eleanor and Park are outsiders in their small town; Eleanor stands out with her red hair, curvy figure, and strange clothes, and Park is the only Asian kid in town. They both have different challenges within their families. Park doesn't see eye-to-eye with his father, and he also struggles to get his mother to accept Eleanor. Eleanor's family life is more complex; early on in the novel, you learn that she's just barely moving back in with her mom after being kicked out by her stepdad a year ago. The family's situation is poor finacially speaking, along with the extra stress of the stepdad's abusive and strict behavior.

"Eleanor and Park" made me feel a lot of different things. It felt like I was reading a real account of two high schoolers. There were moments I was happy, and there were moments I was excited. There were moments I was upset and hopeless, and then there were moments I was actually scared. I can't go too much into detail about where these emotions came from, but I can say this: I didn't want the book to end!

I loved the characters and I also loved how realistic the plot was. My only issue with the book was wanting it to go on longer and end with a little more clarity. Still, if it had kept going, or if Rowell had decided to tell us the exact ending via a horrible twenty-years-later epilogue, it would have lost that genuine feeling. This is a story that feels like it happened in real life.

For these reasons, I gave this book a 4.5 star rating on Goodreads. I wanted a little bit more out of the ending, but I also understood why expanding too much on it would ruin the authenticity. Still, I feel as if there could have been a bit more expansion just so the reader leaves feeling a little more satisfied. Overall, "Eleanor and Park" was a great read, and I highly recommend it to Rainbow Rowell fans and contemporary romance fans.

Cover Image Credit: jackieandwilson on 8tracks

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What Your Hogwarts House Says About You

Get yourself sorted and find out where you belong in the world of witchcraft and wizardry.
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Sorting at Hogwarts is a big deal. Being sorted into a house is essentially being placed into a family while you are away from home learning about witchcraft and wizardry. Your house is made up of the people you will live with, go to classes with, play Quidditch with and everything in between. You basically spend 24/7 with them. Your Hogwarts house is your home away from home.

When you get sorted into a house, it is based on your personality traits. The people in your house are typically like-minded people who display the same characteristics as you.

When you’re a first year at Hogwarts, the minute you set foot in the castle you are swept into the Great Hall to have the ancient Sorting Hat placed on your head. This Sorting Hat decides which “family” you’ll be spending your seven years with.

For some, it is very obvious which house they will be in, due to certain personality traits they possess. For others, they may exemplify traits that fit a multitude of houses and are uncertain where they may end up.

To find out where you belong, you can take the official "Harry Potter" Sorting Hat quiz at Pottermore.com. For all you muggles out there, these are the characteristics that the houses possess and what your house says about you:

Gryffindor: The house of the brave, loyal, courageous, adventurous, daring and chivalrous. Those who stand up for others are typically Gryffindors. Brave-hearted is the most well-known Gryffindor characteristic, and Gryffindors are also known for having a lot of nerve.

Gryffindors are people who hold a multitude of qualities alongside the ones listed, making them a very well-rounded house. People who are Gryffindors are often people who could fit nicely into another house but choose to tell the sorting hat they want Gryffindor (there's that bravery). "Do what is right" is the motto Gryffindors go by.

Being a Gryffindor means that you're probably the adventurous and courageous friend, and you are usually known for doing what is right.

Ravenclaw: The house is known for their wisdom, intelligence, creativity, cleverness and knowledge. Those who value brains over brawn can be found here. Ravenclaws often tend to be quite quirky as well. "Do what is wise" is the motto they strive to follow.

Though Ravenclaws can be know-it-alls sometimes, they most likely do know what the wisest decision is.

If you are known for being the quirky friend, the smartest in the group or just great at making wise decisions, you're definitely a Ravenclaw.

Hufflepuff: This house values hard work, dedication, fair play, patience, and loyalty. Hufflepuff’s are known for being just and true. "Do what is nice" is their motto.

Hufflepuff is known as the “nice house” and believes strongly in sparing peoples feelings and being kind. This is not to say that Hufflepuffs aren't smart or courageous. Hufflepuffs just enjoy making others happy and tend to be more patient towards people.

If you ever find that you are too nice for your own good and cannot bear to hurt someone’s feelings, congratulations, you are a Hufflepuff.

Slytherin: This is the house of the cunning, prideful, resourceful, ambitious, intelligent, and determined. Slytherin's love to be in charge and crave leadership. "Do what is necessary" is the motto of this house.

Slytherin is a fairly well-rounded house, similar to the other houses. They are loyal to those that are loyal to them just as Gryffindors are and are intelligent as Ravenclaws.

Slytherin house as a whole is not evil, despite how many dark wizards come out of this house. That is merely based on the choices of those wizards (so if your friend is a Slytherin, don’t judge, it doesn’t mean they are mean people). Slytherins do, however, have a tendency to be arrogant or prideful. This is most likely due to the fact that everyone in Slytherin is exceedingly proud to be there.

What Hogwarts house you’re in says a lot about the person you are, the traits you possess and how you may act in some situations. But in the end, your house is really just your home that is always there for you. Always.


Cover Image Credit: Warner Bros Pictures

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Baylor Vs. The World: Part 1

Baylor vs. the world: Part 1—Writer's block

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I cannot tell you how many times I have sat down to write this article.

I cannot tell you how hard it was to come up with something to write, how many ideas got a sentence before being thrown into the void. I'm currently spitting words onto a keyboard, clawing for some notion, some brilliant bubble of content to explode in my brain and come to life on the screen of this iPad. I want to write about ignorance and world change. I want to analyze, to put poetry to the page. I want to write so bad. But I'm out of practice.

So that's what I'm writing about: the day I decided to yank myself out of practice.

Writing is and always will be my first love. So, the first stop at OU was Gaylord. My first year in college was nothing but writing. A journalism major's life, especially during year one, is to wake up, write, go to class, write, eat, write, operate a camera for an upperclassman, write, sleep, repeat. Even when you're in front of the camera, you spend more time writing to prepare for the piece than you do performing. I loved it. I thrived. I was good at it, like really good. I don't want to toot my own horn or anything, but I will. I'd be a great journalist. I made friends for life. I had no reason to be unfulfilled with the path I had chosen.

But I was.

My life was objectively the best that it had ever been, but there was a hole in my heart. I was doing something I loved, not what I was made to do. They aren't always the same thing. I thought, meditated, prayed to God for guidance. I got sadder by the day, longing for a passion that I had laid to rest: performance.

While writing is my first love, acting is my true love. I was never anything special. I was one of the better actors in my high school, but I wasn't even the best in my graduating class. I just happened to not have stage fright and could project. I was a hobby actor that just played myself. So when I began to tell people I was considering auditioning for OU's School of Drama, it was not met with positivity. Everyone told me to pick a more realistic way, to stick with journalism. I'm better at it, it pays more, and it isn't nearly as competitive. Everyone said that, except for one person.

My dad is the most down-to-earth human I know. Travis Hurst does not have his head in the clouds, nor will he tolerate the foolish idea of a person being able to literally put their head in clouds. So I was floored when he of all people supported me. I remember the words vividly.

"Baylor, I went to college and worked nonstop. I went to college for a job. Don't do that. Go to college for a purpose, your purpose. Love your time there. Don't be another guy who doesn't pursue fulfillment."

I still get all choked up thinking about those words. They were incredibly wise and exactly what I needed to hear.

From there, it was over. I called and set up an audition, told my friends my plans, memorized my monologues, and had the best audition I have had to this point. I walked out sure of myself. I got the call. I made it.

Since then, I've been fulfilling my purpose: acting. I have learned more in these last couple of months at the OU School of Drama than I have in my entire life. For the first time in a long time, I feel peace.

I am so happy.

I stared at that sentence for ten seconds. It's just odd to see, I suppose. Living in your purpose changes things.

But as I've said, writing will always be my first love. I will never stop. That's why I still create podcasts and write sketches. It's why I dove headfirst into writing for Odyssey with minimal research. It's why I waited so long to finish writing this and am submitting a week late. What kind of person is late on their first submission? I just couldn't bring anything but my A-game for this first article. Apologies to the editors.

Baylor vs. The World is a working title by the way. I don't know if I like it. But in this installment of Baylor vs. Writer's Block? I took 'em to the cleaners. Baylor's back, baby.

That was cringey. I need to end this.

Alright, bye now.

-BTH

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