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.
To be honest, I was never a fan of YA contemporary. Sure, I loved YA Fantasy and YA Sci-fi and lots of dystopian-set books, but I had my on contemporary for a long time. I didn’t know, however, how incredible contemporary is.
I recently read Eleanor and Park and I thought it was a wonderful contemporary. Everything about it, you could tell, was planned out. It was very thought-out with lots of visible effort in it. Eleanor and Park was a light, breezy romance with a strong ending and premise.
The characters were, how do I put it, interesting. Eleanor was completely and totally the opposite of a girl. With baggy clothes and bushy red hair and scarves wrapped in her hair and around her wrists, and with lots of baby fat remaining, Eleanor was a completely new reading experience for me. I loved it, because right now we need lots of diversity in books. We can’t always have beautiful heroines who are strong and smart and save the day each time. We need new people to share the spotlight, with physical disabilities/illnesses/inabilities and mental disabilities/illnesses/inabilities. I thought Eleanor was a strong character who had to go through a lot and developed as a person tremendously, all right before my eyes.
Park wasn’t horrible. I thought that Park actually had a ring to it. It’s a rather new name, and Park was a really, well, good person. Park was referred to in the beginning as “the Asian kid” which was pretty curious and laughable. Park defended Eleanor *Taekwondo flip-kick* (show-off. I can do it better than him. I’m going to go take my black belt and hold it in his face and being like HA HA) when she was being made fun of and he genuinely cared for her. Not how she looked or how she dressed. More of how she thought and how she acted.
Reading from Eleanor and Park’s perspectives was a bit exhilarating. And this is also the reason I would hesitantly recommend this book. It was a lovely book, definitely a strong one, but there was lots of bad language. And I mean a lot. I wasn’t going to hit the book, but when they started the book off with bad language and then continuously used it again and again in the same moment–that was sort of tiring and hard to read, so be aware.
The world-building was very light, which is why I would give it a four stars. You didn’t know much at all besides the bus and the school, and each of the perspectives viewed it as something you would pretty much already know. As if, ahead of time, we studied the setting, which we, as readers did not. I thought they had to improve on this, no matter it was a regular high school. There was no sense of surroundings, and the settings were really hard to picture.
The writing was pretty fluid, if you ignore the bad language. It was fluid and one moment transitioned smoothly to another. From Eleanor and Park in their history class, it overviewed their day not richly until English class, their next class together. I said the romance was light and breezy. It was, and I’m satisfied enough with that.
The plot was strong, really strong. It ends on a pretty happy note, a semi-cliffhanger at that, and unfortunately this is a stand-alone. I would love to read the sequel if there was one. The story line was rich in detail and unique. There were a few clichés but they fit in the story so much that you would recognize them and not mind them. There was also another trope in the story I didn’t like however, and it was “The new girl vs. The mean girl” trope. With the mean girl having a pretty loose tongue (manner of speaking, I should say).
What I loved most about this book was how Eleanor and Park fell in love. Seriously, guys, they fell in love over comics. On the bus, Park was the only one who offered Eleanor a seat and he would read comics everyday, and she would just look over his shoulder and read. It was pretty entertaining and unique. And Park did not fail to purposefully bring her comics to read everyday. It was very light, but it was lovely to read.
Rainbow Rowell is one of the most celebrated authors of YA Contemporary, seriously guys. I thought she did an excellent, excellent job in this novel. I will certainly be keeping an eye out for her other contemporaries.
I recommend this novel strongly. If you are up for a light romance with hard core, then I say go for it!