Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell ~Goodreads~
Published by Orion 2013
Paperback 336 pages ~The Book Depository~
Two misfits. One extraordinary love. 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.
Having read Fangirl another fantastic novel by Rainbow Rowell this year, I have to admit I had a lot of high expectations for this book. Many people I know read Eleanor & Park before Fangirl and some say that this book is by far the best of Rainbow Rowell, for me it is equally as brilliant.
The book is set during 1986 and deals with issues such as domestic abuse, child abuse, race, bulling, and body image. Some are put off that its teen fiction, but for me on the edge of becoming 20 years old I thoroughly enjoyed it. I don’t think I’ll ever grow out of young adult books, they tend to be the best.
Eleanor is the “different” girl in school, overweight with bright red hair and mismatched clothes. She’s definitely relatable if you felt like the loner in school. On the bust to school she meets Park a half Korean guy the same age as Eleanor, and their romance begins when Park lends Eleanor his comic books that he usually reads on the bus. Over time and switching comics and making mix tapes, they soon fall in love.
To put simply, this book will remind you of what it was like to “fall in love” for the first time when you were a teen. It really fills you up with so many emotions and reminds you of how being a teen was such a hormonal time.
Like most teen love stories, being together isn’t always easy and finding the time proves to be difficult obstacle constantly in their way. It’s dramatic and poignant, their kind of story where nothing else matter except the person you’re in love with. Remember that age where you liked the guy in school and pretty much everything else was put aside because he was the only thing in the world that mattered yeah? Well this is Eleanor & Park, they’re in their own bubble of love. They’re strong and nothing will stop them from being together because they’ll fight through all the obstacles in their way.
Park was my favourite character of the book, mainly because he’s cute and nerdy but also like the superhero of the book. Historically, at this point in Omaha 1986 it was a time where there was racial tension. Park is half white and half Korean. Most of this time is spent trying not to be noticed in school and struggling with his own insecurities.
When he meets Eleanor he tries to help her overcome her own insecurities, not only that he saves Eleanor from the difficulties happening in her family home. Just his whole personality is something beautiful, its characters like him that give me such high hopes.