Title: Eleanor & Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Published: July 7th 2014
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Length: 329 pages
Source: Purchased paperback
Book Blurb (via Goodreads):
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 mix 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 & Park is funny, sad, shocking and true – an exquisite nostalgia trip for anyone who has never forgotten their first love.
Even though I own several Rainbow Rowell books, I’ve only ever read Fangirl before and I wanted to pick up another book by her because I fell in love with her writing. While this one is vastly different from Fangirl in many ways, I still fell in love with the characters all the same.
Eleanor is new in school. She’s a little overweight, has flaming red hair, and a dysfunctional family. So of course, she gets picked on. Park is an Asian-American kid who tries to melt into the background just so he can get by. When the pair meet and fall in love, it’s like the happy ending you would wish for, but nothing’s ever that easy. Especially not for Eleanor.
This book is a bit difficult. Not in that it’s hard to read or to wrap your head around. Eleanor comes from a large family, her step-dad is controlling and quite scary and she shares a room with her younger siblings. It’s heart-breaking to see her family situation. By contrast, Park lives in a stable family home with his parents and his younger brother. While he has some high expectations to live up to, he knows that his family will always support him through his decisions.
When they meet, it’s just too cute. Park’s obvious adoration and infatuation with Eleanor is so sweet and the fact that he tries so hard to win her over completely won me over. He’s trying so hard to understand this girl that is seriously closed off – for very good reasons – and seeing her slowly break down her walls just… urg, it just make me want to squish them.
The tone of this book is super sweet for the most part as the pair discover each other and their relationship blossoms. We get a glimpse of the fear that Eleanor lives under but I wasn’t ready for the end when that fear became scarily real. As Eleanor escapes from her suffocating existence, I couldn’t help but feel hope for the pair.
I both love and hate how ambiguous the ending is. There was even a special section about it at the end of the book that just made it worse! It’s like a cliffhanger but without a sequel to clear things up. I liked it because it leaves things open for the reader to interpret things how they want it to be, but I hate endings like that. I like to know for sure.
You can’t really fail with a Rainbow Rowell book. You know you’re going to get a heart-warming contemporary that makes you finish the last page with a contented sigh (most of the time!).
About the Author
Rainbow Rowell writes books. Sometimes she writes about adults (ATTACHMENTS and LANDLINE). Sometimes she writes about teenagers (ELEANOR & PARK and FANGIRL). But she always writes about people who talk a lot. And people who feel like they’re screwing up. And people who fall in love.
When she’s not writing, Rainbow is reading comic books, planning Disney World trips and arguing about things that don’t really matter in the big scheme of things.
She lives in Nebraska with her husband and two sons.
*Picture and Biography from Goodreads