Review: Eleanor & Park

Book Title: Eleanor & Park

Book Author: Rainbow Rowell

Book Rating: ☆☆☆☆ (4 out of 5 stars)

Synopsis: “Eleanor… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough…Eleanor.

Park… He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises…Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.”

This was a great book, but I can’t help but think that I would have loved it even more if I had read this in high school.  I was pretty awkward in high school, and I feel like I would have related to Eleanor and Park a lot in my teens.  The story takes place during one school year in 1986 (cue the awesome music/television/movie, etc. references!).  Eleanor is the new kid at school, and she first meets Park when he begrudgingly lets her sit next to him on the bus.  Where Park is more of your “average guy”, flying under the radar, Eleanor really stands out in the crowd with her flaming red hair and her unique fashion sense, and many of the other girls at school ridicule her mercilessly.  Slowly, Park and Eleanor’s relationship grows from reluctantly sitting next to each other on the bus, to an all-consuming love.  All of this was presented in a way that will make you remember all of the butterflies and vulnerability that came with your first love.

The fact that this was a romance was almost inconsequential to me.  I really just liked Eleanor and Park’s connection, whether it was just a deep friendship or true love.  Their relationship, at times, felt more like just two best friends…but I did enjoy many of their sweet little moments, like the first time they held hands and their first kiss.  It was almost sickeningly sweet, but it was still very cute.  Rowell’s tale of first love was not without heartbreak, however, and this book also dealt with some pretty heavy issues, including poverty and domestic abuse.  Be prepared, this book may cause you to shed a few tears!

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