Eleanor and Park could not be any different, but at the same time, they could not be any more alike. Park is half Korean and has lived in Omaha his whole life, in a nice house with the perfect family. Eleanor has had a broken family for most of her life,she has moved around a lot and doesn’t really have a place to call home. Eleanor is quirky, has a head full of hair that she doesn’t know what to do with, and wears weird clothes are always too big. Park likes to read comics and listen to his walkman. Eleanor has a walkman, but doesn’t have any batteries. She loves to read and has a perfect voice for reading poetry out loud.
Eleanor and Park meet on the school bus, in a very Forest Gump like way. No one will let Eleanor sit next to them, except for Park. This doesn’t mean Park is happy about the situation, but he does it because he feels bad. Eventually, Eleanor and Park begin to read comics together on the bus, as in Eleanor looks over Park’s shoulder while he reads. Not too long after, Park begins to lend Eleanor his comic books and starts to make her mix tapes with her favorite band, The Smiths. They soon realize that much like Romeo and Juliet, they’re destined to be together, even when the world is trying to tear them apart.
eleanor & park by Rainbow Rowell gave me butterflies the entire time I read it. I was over the moon in love with how Eleanor and Park’s friendship turned into love. It was like being in high school all over again. The novel is written in third person alternating between Eleanor and Park. Throughout the story, you are able to feel what each character is feeling: their triumphs, their failures, and their love for one another.
When I went to the library, I was surprised to see a copy of eleanor & park sitting right next to Divergent by Veronica Roth, the book I actually went to the library to get. eleanor & park has been on my to-read list for a while, but I didn’t think our tiny library had it. I went home and read it from start to finish, only putting it down to eat dinner and walk the dog. It was the perfect book for the rainy day that we were having. I was immediately sucked into the high school love affair between two teens that were created for one another.
I really enjoyed the buildup of Eleanor and Park’s relationship. They didn’t jump into being friends, and they certainly didn’t jump into being lovers. Their first kiss was well into the novel and it had me holding my breath, just like Eleanor was holding hers. I was waiting for the kids to do more than just hold hands, and when it finally happened, I could breathe again. I didn’t even know a book could give me the feelings of first love all over again. And that’s exactly how I felt during this moment, like I was reliving my first kiss all over again.
I loved how the author switched perspectives between Eleanor and Park so frequently. I didn’t have to read a 20 page chapter about Park, constantly wondering about how Eleanor was feeling. True love has no boundaries, and in Eleanor and Park’s relationship their thoughts and feelings became inseparable. The perspectives switched so often that you didn’t have time to process the thoughts as two different people, they became one entity.
I felt so bad for Eleanor throughout most of the novel. Life dealt her a bad hand making it very difficult to live a happy and normal life. She became an adult much earlier than most children should and she wasn’t able to have everything she needed, let alone wanted. I really didn’t understand the issue between her and her father. Her mother and father got divorced when she was younger and her father basically disowned her and her other siblings. The author really didn’t elaborate on why the divorce happened and why he was such a bad father. She only alluded to drugs and alcohol. It seemed as if the absentee father was thrown into the story and then never really brought up in great detail. Her step father, on the other hand, is a huge jerk/creepo and he eventually gets what he deserves.
I feel like a broken record in my reviews saying how so many endings disappoint me, but once again, this ending left so much to be desired. The end of the book was rushed and the last line of the novel left me thinking, “Huh?” I can assume what the author meant, but that’s NOT enough for me. I need more, I want more. At the end of Romeo and Juliet, there is definite ending. Romeo and Juliet commit suicide and their families realize what horrible people they have been. But at the end of Eleanor and Park, it’s just over, leaving you with many unanswered questions.
I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to fall in love like they did in high school. Be warned, there is a lot of unnecessary cursing, so I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone younger than 8th grade, and that’s even pushing it a little. I cannot wait to read more from Rainbow Rowell, she is a great author and eleanor & park exceeded all of my expectations.
What are the chances you’d ever meet someone like that? he wondered. Someone you could love forever, someone who would forever love you back? And what did you do when that person was born half a world away? – pg. 301
I leave you with a lovely book trailor for this wonderful love story: