Eleanor & Park

Author: Rainbow Rowell

When Eleanor first transferred to his school, Park thought she must be asking for trouble, acting and dressing the way she did. But somehow over time, that first impression transformed into wonder and affection for this brave, individualistic girl. Gradually, the two form a relationship rooted in comics, good music, and quiet camaraderie. Theirs is a romance fated for trouble, however, as Park struggles with the secret part of himself that is ashamed to love this unpopular girl and Eleanor fights to keep Park a secret from her cowed family and abusive step-father. Will their love be enough when they live in such different worlds?

Eleanor & Park absolutely enthralled me–I read the entire 300+ pages in one afternoon! In this book, Rainbow Rowell builds an incredibly human and vulnerable love story, one that will touch us all in one way or another. Eleanor and Park are both misfits in their own way, living outside the accepted popular groups in their school. And they are both complete, rich, engaging people whose perspectives are a delight to read–I really enjoyed the dual-perspective writing in this book. I also greatly appreciate the imperfections of both characters and the vulnerable, sometimes excruciating ways they deal with themselves–aren’t we all that way sometimes? And may I just say that I love this story’s being set in 1986; it adds a lot of retro character that would be missing in a contemporary setting. I will note that this book deals with some really difficult topics–like abuse–and there’s a large amount of swearing. But somehow, that adds to the overall character of the story, and let’s face it, difficult topics need to be addressed openly. I think Eleanor & Park is a fulfilling, bittersweet, poignant romance that fills a needed place in today’s writing; I would certainly recommend it to most 16+ readers, and especially to those who love a good love story.

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