Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Recommend to Others?: Yes
Two sixteen-year-olds, Eleanor and Park, fall in love with each other – their first time falling in love – and struggle to hang on to and embrace it despite personal beliefs of what love is and means.
Eleanor & Park is a fantastic story of acceptance and first love. It’s a beautiful tale, so raw and open about the emotions the two title characters go through as their relationship with each other and those around them progresses and changes.
I admire the way Eleanor takes what she has (men’s clothes and thrift shop buys) and makes it her own despite what the other kids think. It’s not because she wants to but it’s what she (unconsciously) has to. She has learned to adapt to her surroundings since, as she points out, she didn’t grow up normal, so her choice of outfits and accessories are her own version of normal.
I like how Park’s POV gives us an insider-looking-out take on things, then an outsider looking in. It helps the reader to really get to know and understand exactly who Park and Eleanor are. I also love how Park does to try to understand Eleanor and vise versa.
All the pop culture references and how Park and Eleanor used some of them to describe/explain something were cool and funny. It was all incorporated in an artful way; I admire Rainbow Rowell’s style of writing and storytelling.
An ambiguous ending (ugh!) but it gives me hope for Eleanor’s and Park’s future. This is a much better story of “star-crossed lovers,” which I didn’t see the similarities/allusion to until after reading it.
Eleanor & Park is an honest, complicated, and compelling novel – I loved it so much.