Review: Eleanor & Park

ImageTitle: Eleanor & Park

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Rating: ★★★★★

Provided Synopsis: Two misfits. One extraordinary love.

Eleanor… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough… Eleanor.

Park… He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises… Park.

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.

Review: There is a seating chart on the school bus, and Park has a bench all to himself. Or, at least he did, until the day that Eleanor arrives. She is the new girl. With her red hair, odd and tattered clothing, and big eyes, she is the target of criticism and jokes from the moment she arrives. She has nowhere to sit and the bus cannot move until she does, so Park grudgingly scoots aside.

At first the pair never speak. Then Park notices that Eleanor tends to read his comic books from the corner of her eye. He brings her more, they begin to speak. A friendship and connection stitches together over comics and music. But Eleanor’s home life is no fairy tale; she has boundaries of honesty that Park struggles to cross.

Rainbow Rowell has crafted honest characters who live heartbreaking moments. As Eleanor struggles, I struggled with her. I related to these characters in a way that was simple yet true. The dialogue is so natural for two sixteen-year-olds. The limitations they face are so organic to the circumstances of their age and lives. What makes this story so successful is the truth of Eleanor and Park’s connection and love. They misunderstand each other at times, they struggle nearly as much as they make each other laugh. I never wanted this story to end, and I long to know what was written on the final note. Like all good loves theirs keeps you wanting for more.

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