Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell is the sweet story of the romance between two misfit teens, Eleanor and Park. Neither of them fit in easily with their classmates; Eleanor because of her quirky appearance and Park because of his half Asian heritage in a predominantly white Omaha community. While Eleanor’s homelife is desperate and downright dangerous, Park comes from a loving and supportive family. When Eleanor sits beside Park on the school bus a sweet, beautifully written romance ensues.
I read this after coming out of my post-Allegiant emotional hangover and it was the perfect antidote. Despite the terrible family situation in which Eleanor finds herself, the bright spot in her life provided by her friendship with Park is truly heartwarming.
What I liked
The characterisation. The novel is written from the dual viewpoints of Park and Eleanor, and both are beautifully and evocatively drawn, each with his or her own concerns and issues. The characters feel very alive, and it is very easy to root for both of them. Rowell has a real knack for making her characters seem real people.
The romance. The love story between our two protagonists is beautifully and sweetly drawn. It starts off very slowly but gradually the relationship develops between the pair. It seems very real, with a solid base on friendship and a shared love of music and comics and the progression to love is wonderfully done. I loved that when Eleanor’s world comes crashing down towards the end, Park is there for her as much as a friend as a boyfriend, even though it had a personal cost for him.
The narration. I listened to this in audio format and both Rebecca Lowman and Sunil Malhotra did an excellent job.
Here’s a sample
What I didn’t like
There was nothing I didn’t enjoy about Eleanor & Park and will certainly pick up more of Rowell’s books. I gave Eleanor & Park four and a half stars out of five