Book Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor & Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Reading Level: Young Adult
Genres: Contemporary | Coming of Age
Released: April 1st 2012
Review Source: Purchased

Eleanor is the new girl in town, and she's never felt more alone. All mismatched clothes, mad red hair and chaotic home life, she couldn't stick out more if she tried. Then she takes the seat on the bus next to Park. Quiet, careful and - in Eleanor's eyes - impossibly cool, Park's worked out that flying under the radar is the best way to get by. Slowly, steadily, through late-night conversations and an ever-growing stack of mixed tapes, Eleanor and Park fall in love. They fall in love the way you do the first time, when you're 16, and you have nothing and everything to lose. Set over the course of one school year in 1986, Eleanor and Park is funny, sad, shocking and true - an exquisite nostalgia trip for anyone who has never forgotten their first love.

I had really high expectations for this book. There is so much hype surrounding it - John Green even reviewed it on the New York Times. Even after all of that, this book still surpassed my expectations. It’s witty, awkward, heart-wrenching, and so, so beautiful.

Eleanor comes from not-the-best of families - A father who doesn’t want her, a mother who’s stopped caring, and a verbally abusive step dad. Park, however, is the poster-boy for this city - Mom and Dad met in Korea while his dad was deployed in the military, they fell in love and came back to the U.S., and he has a close relationship to his brother.

When Eleanor returns home to her mother, after being kicked out for the past year by her step dad, she dreads having to start over again. That is until she actually starts speaking to the boy she’s sat next to on the school bus for the whole year. Don’t misunderstand the context - it was all baby steps, side glances, and learning one another. Which I think just adds to why these characters are so special.

They are truly in absolute love with each other, even at only 16 years-old. The language just makes your heart swell and an involuntary smile to spread on your face.

Although, I will say, it has one of those endings that leaves you wanting more even if the whole conflict in the story was resolved. I know even if there were to be a book 2, it would never compare to this masterpiece of literature.

There’s not much else I can say about this book other than to get your hands on it and have the best time while reading it. It really is all you can do.

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