Written in dual point of views, Eleanor and Park is a young adult love story. With her crazy red hair, large body type, and interesting wardrobe, Eleanor doesn't fit it. She is bullied at school, and if that's not bad enough, she has an abusive stepfather.
Park is technically in the popular group at school, but still feels as if he doesn't fit in, he's the only Asian kid at his school (well, half-Asian anyways). Plus, his dad is constantly trying to get him to be more masculine, more like his younger brother.
On her first bus ride to her new school Eleanor ends up sitting next to Park. Through their love of comic books and music, the two begin to fall in love themselves.
Rate: 4 stars
I typically stick to dystopian, action or adventure books. But as you can see, I've decided to branch out a bit. Along with Eleanor & Park, I've also picked up Fangirl, and so far I haven't been disappointed with Rainbow Rowell. Although I did not like Eleanor and Park as much as some people, I still enjoyed it. I think the book is fairly realistic, and it isn't all about the romance. I liked how the characters were far from perfect (physically and emotionally), and that they dealt with real world problems like bullying, stereotypes and abuse. Plus, I thought it was interesting how Eleanor & Park was set in the 80s, it gave the book a nice twist.
The romance itself was quite sweet actually. It wasn't love at first sight (or as Eleanor put it "'Oh my God, he's so cute' at first sight"). They fell in love gradually over comic books and music. And I loved the fact that they weren't super good looking models or something. No, they were misfits, and they had their flaws. And I think that shows that you don't have to be good looking to find love.
Now, let's talk about the Eleanor's home situation. Honestly I felt really bad for her. The fact that Eleanor didn't even have a toothbrush is really sad. She had to share an extremely small room with all three of her other siblings. She could rarely afford to buy new clothing (well, not really new actually, just used clothes from Goodwill or someplace like that). Then on top of having little money, she had an abusive step-dad and a biological father that didn't care. It's one thing to have a stepfather that you hate, but to have your real father out of the picture because he didn't care is another. All around Eleanor's family life sucked.
Her school situation wasn't that much better either. She was bullied, as well as an outcast. She did find a couple of friends along the way though, who helped her get by (along with Park). Tina and her friends were mean to Eleanor just because she was different. What's wrong with different? I can't believe that they would take her clothes during gym class and drop them in the toilet. I felt really bad for Eleanor during that scene. I think this aspect is relatable as some many people go through bullying during school.
Park's social situation was't nearly as bad. He had friends and wasn't bothered by the bullies. But he didn't feel like he fit in either. I liked how he stood up for Eleanor on the bus. Although I don't think it was necessary for him to get in a fight with Steve.
Park's home situation was much better than Eleanor's. Even though his dad wanted him to be more masculine, he did soften up throughout the book. His parents were still together, unlike Eleanor's, and it was clear that they were still in love. At first I wasn't to fond of Park's mom, as she thought Eleanor was odd, but I began to like Park's mom more as she began to accept Eleanor. I liked the moment when she realized had gone through similar things as a child as Eleanor, so as a result, she accepted Eleanor. I thought that it was nice of her to give her some of the makeup she would use on her client, that was a nice touch.
Now the ending of this book is interesting. We find out that that Eleanor's stepdad, Richie has found out that Eleanor has been dating somebody. He had destroyed Eleanor's belongings and we also find out that he had written the mean messages that Eleanor found on some of her duo-tangs. Because of this Eleanor fled her house and Park drives her up to her uncle's place in another state. Eleanor went to a new school leaving Park behind. Park tried to keep in touch, but Eleanor didn't respond except for one postcard that she sends at the very end of the book with three words. What are those three words? Lots of people think that they are 'I love you'. But is that really it? And I think that it is so sad that Eleanor had to leave the state to get away from her step-dad and live with her uncle. Her biological dad didn't even want her.
Overall, I thought this book was pretty good. I liked how it delt with heavier topics and I liked the messages it sent out.