Review: Eleanor and Park
After living at a friend’s house for a while, Eleanor has just come home to live with her mother, stepfather, and siblings. Being back home is not great, especially since it means starting at a new high school. On Eleanor’s first day no one wants to let her sit by them on the bus but the bus driver bellows at her to find a seat. Park finally relents and shares his seat with her. Park is on the fringes of the popular group and it’s obvious Eleanor never will be, so Park totally ignores her because he wants it to be clear that they’ll never be friends.
When Eleanor ends up being in a couple of Park’s classes, though, he discovers that she’s smart and clever and he becomes attracted to her. Eleanor starts reading Park’s comics over his shoulder on the bus and he begins sharing comics and music and, eventually, his heart with her.
Eleanor and Park, by Rainbow Rowell, is a sweet love story that totally stole my heart. Set in 1986, this book is quirky and warm and full of pop references. The heart of the story is the characters, though. I loved both Eleanor and Park and I loved that they weren’t perfect. They both had problems and fears and they weren’t beautiful. In fact, Eleanor was described as a “big” girl. They were both misfits of sorts; Eleanor because of her size and her home life and Park because he is half Korean. They’re the type of characters readers can identify with in one way or another.
I liked the storyline of the book too. It’s fun and true to life. I’m sure many teen readers can relate to the situations the characters find themselves in. Park and Eleanor are both new to romance so the beginning of their relationship isn’t always smooth. As I finished the book, my first impression was that it didn’t end the way I wanted it too. The ending is realistic, though, and the more I think about it, the more perfect I think it is.
I think Eleanor and Park will have broad appeal. Younger readers will relate to the characters and their lives and older readers will be reminded of intense first loves. There is some language in the book but it generally fits the situation.
I listened to the audio version of this book. It’s expertly narrated by Rebecca Lowman and Sunil Malhotra. They engaged me right from the start and became Park and Eleanor in my mind. The audio lasts approximately 9 hours.