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.
Description taken from Goodreads.
It’s been nearly three years since I last reviewed Eleanor & Park, and I think a re-review is in order. Well, it’s not so much a rereview (since I didn’t reread it) as it is a less-awkward, more sturdy review of the book, one it deserved the first time, but here we go!
Think Ready Player One meets John Green, and you’ve got this book.
But if you don’t like the poetry of John Green’s novels, don’t shy away from this one. It can hardly be called similar to John Green’s novels. The characters are completely different than John’s standard archetypes, and Rowell’s characters are much more realistic. While Augustus Waters is very nice to know, Park seems like someone I would actually know.
And believe me, we all know Eleanor.
Oh, Eleanor. She’s just not right. Ever. And yet, you can’t pity her because she’s not that type of person. She does her best with what she has, and she doesn’t push her issues in anyone’s face. She’s no one’s pity project, and even when she’s with Park, she does her best to keep her personal life out of it.
I guess you could say this is an issues book, and parts of it are gritty-fiction oriented. Eleanor deals with an abusive stepfather. Her parents don’t make any move to help her with her situation, and she’s disconnected from her much younger siblings. She doesn’t have money, and she gets ridiculed at school. Despite all of this, she continues on.
Which brings me to the end, at least of E&P‘s plot. I would say that even now, it’s unsatisfactory. I want to say that it’s okay, but it wasn’t. It tried to be sad, and it partially was, but for the most part it was just disappointing. Fortunately, it wasn’t that bad, and the ending was the only part of the book that I wasn’t happy with.
When it comes to the rest of the plot, things were golden. Eleanor and Park’s relationship developed well, and I loved their conversations about pop culture and comics. Especially in the beginning, they just felt like really good friends to me, and that was nice to see in YA. It did eventually become a romance, somewhat along the line of Elizabeth Eulberg’s Better Off Friends, but they had a sweet relationship that wasn’t always happy, but turned out well.
The supporting characters didn’t have huge roles. For the most part, it was literally just Eleanor & Park, but there were many difficulties beside Eleanor’s home life that they had to deal with. For one thing, the disapproval that Park feels from his parents.
And oh, his parents.
They are the greatest.
His mom is Korean and his dad is white, and his mom is quite possibly the greatest Korean mom that I have ever seen written in YA. She’s realistic. Therefore, it’s hilarious (and also sobering) to read about her.
And then there’s Park’s dad, who has always favored Park’s brother. Between the two of them, I thought they were overall great parents, and it was very nice to see a complete lack of Disappearing Parent Syndrome (which has only become more prevalent in YA in the last three years).
This is a great contemporary romance novel. It’s sweet, it’s sad, it’s real. The writing is flowery without making you feel like you’re drowning in a pool of convoluted metaphors. While it isn’t historical fiction by any means and should not be read because of the time period, it has great pop culture references and it was really fun to see Eleanor and Park come together because of that. For anyone who enjoys YA lit, and even for those who don’t, I would recommend this book. 4.5 stars.