St. Martins, 2013
It’s the 1980s and Eleanor is the new girl in school. She has bright red hair and wears clothes that are completely out there. She couldn’t stick out more if she tried and is bullied because of it. Park is the boy who sits in the back of the bus with his headphones, reads comics and tries to be invisible. He saves Eleanor on her first day by letting her sit next to him. Riding the bus together everyday Eleanor and Park slowly fall in love.
Review: I finally got around to reading Eleanor and Park. I received the ARC at ALA Midwinter last year and just kept getting pushed to the bottom of my to read list. I had heard so many different accounts, that I wasn’t sure if I was going to LOVE Eleanor and Park or HATE it. In the end I felt a bit indifferent towards it. I liked the book, but I didn’t think it was anything extraordinary. I think the ending ruined it a bit for me. At the end of the novel, Eleanor’s character becomes whiney and annoying. I wanted to shake her and tell her to BUCK UP! Even with the problems with her family (a abusive stepfather, a mother who won’t stand up for her children, no money) I found Eleanor’s behavior at the end unbelievable or at the very least out of character. I liked that both of the character’s have reservations about their relationship. Eleanor has difficultly with her family that makes her flawed and doesn’t want to let people in. Park still cares about what people think and people don’t think highly of Eleanor. Struggling to overcome their own issues is what makes this love story a realistic one.
Besides the ending, I really liked that Rowell had Eleanor and Park relate their story in alternating turns. Sometimes each character only had a sentence or two before it switched to the other character. I thought this made the book feel more immediate to the reader. It made me feel like I was watching this happen in real time. In general, I think the book was beautifully written. The love story is heartwarming. The slow evolution of their love as they find they share similar interests. This is a book that teens will relate to and read over and over again.
**Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for providing me with an ARC at ALA Midwinter 2013.**