After putting Eleanor & Park down, I felt like I had just loved for the first time, and given that I am currently eighteen years old, I am in the midst of truly loving for the first time. Eleanor & Park gives you the feeling that you too are in the stuffy school bus, disturbing gym room, or alone in Eleanor’s bedroom as she dreams of Park. Rainbow Rowell articulates the teenage condition flawlessly.
The story follows two teenagers living in Omaha in the 80s: Eleanor, a bigger girl with fire red hair, and Park, a half Asian boy who enjoys comics. Their first encounter is brash as Eleanor is picked on while boarding the school bus and Park begrudgingly allows her to sit with him. Through silent bus rides, they soon learn to bond over the reading of comics and their love of music.
Their journey, while never perfect, felt like falling in love. The words that Rowell wrote reminded me of the times I spent feeling the same emotions. Through Eleanor, Rowell displays the way that people who aren’t the prettiest learn to be comfortable with someone who means the world to them. Through Park, she articulates the way we must become bold and fearless for the ones we love.
This book made me believe. I laughed, I cried, I cringed, and yet, I believe in love even more now that I have read it.
“He knows I’ll like a song before I’ve heard it. He laughs before I even get to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes me want to let him open doors for me. There’s only one of him.” As you read Eleanor & Park, prepare to live your first love. Prepare to fall for the characters, the story, the sorrow, and even the “super gay” wearing of eyeliner.
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell: 9/10