Eleanor & Park is set in Omaha in 1986 and is a quirky, heartwarming, tear-jerking story of two misfits who find each other, and find in each other someone who can love them and accept them as they are. Eleanor starts her first day at a new school and her wild red hair and crazy clothing is doing nothing to help her fit in. Park, part Korean and nothing like the rest of his perfect and athletic family, reluctantly lets her share his seat on the bus and the two sit in absolute silence for weeks until he notices that she’s reading his comic books over his shoulder. Slowly he begins to share his comics and they come to realize that these stolen moments are the best of their days. Their relationship evolves slowly and beautifully from there, although not easily – Eleanor comes from a difficult home situation with a violent stepfather and an unresponsive mother – Park’s family is unsure about this strange girl he is bringing home – but they have that feeling all of us can remember – that teenage love is pure and true and conquer anything…
“You don’t have to be the kind of beautiful that everyone can agree on. If the right person finds you beautiful, you win. You win forever.”
I loved this book, proving to me yet again that there are wonderful stories to be found in the young adult genre, and that they can be engrossing to those of us who are more adult than we are young! 😉 I have struggled with finding the words to describe what makes their relationship so enduring – it is quirky, funny, sweet, gritty, awkward, difficult, pure and honest – there are shared X-Men comics and mix tapes (remember mix tapes?!) that make me reminisce about my own teenage days – there is friendship and acceptance and hope, even when it seems there should be no hope left.
“The me that’s me right now is yours. Always.”
Title: Eleanor & Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Publication: St. Martin’s Griffin, February 2013