I picked up Eleanor and Park mainly because John Green had sung its praises, which of course led to the internet grabbing hold of it and joining in on the chorus. Needless to say, I went in with high expectations.
Eleanor and Park is one of the best books I have ever read.
It tells the story of Eleanor and Park (duh) and their young love in the 80’s. Eleanor comes from a broken home, and is immediately picked on as the new girl at school. Park is a half Korean misfit, who loved comics and punk music and wants to keep his head down. They fall together after she sits next to him on the bus, and the rest, as they say, is history. The plot may sound cheesy, but it’s nothing but. There are niggling little points through the story, which build up to a startling conclusion.
Eleanor and Park is really about the characters. They spoke with authentic voices and they had their own individual quirks. You could really distinct between Eleanor and Park, and see and feel their attraction and love for each other. Everyone can relate to at least one thing in one of the characters. Whether if its Eleanor’s self-consciousness, or Park’s feeling like he doesn’t fit in, Eleanor and Park touches so many topics, that it will never stop being relevant. But what I love the most about it is it is about love. It is not a story about body-image or ethnicity or broken homes, it’s about love. And it never loses sight of that.
One thing that really pleased me about this book was that it tackled a subject that I have been dying to see more in Young Adult literature: ethnicity and racism. Park is one of the first half Koreans I have seen in YA (probably the only one) and I am so glad Rowell has dealt with the issues surrounding second generation immigrants and the confusion of fitting in (you may notice that I am of Indian ethnicity).
Most importantly, Eleanor and Park made me feel. It took me on a journey with them, inside their heads, and I felt a part of the story. It was painful, it was ecstatic, it was everything being a teenager in love is like. I’m not the biggest pure romance fan, I find a lot of books in the genre to be very generic and clichéd, but I was on the edge of my mental seat, waiting for the twist and turn to come.
I could write a whole essay on why I love Eleanor and Park, but I’m going to leave it here. This book affected me right after the last page was turned, and I suggest you go out and get it.
Rating (can’t you guess?): 10/10