This book revolves around two teenage misfits, Eleanor and Park, over the course of one school year in 1981 in Omaha, Nebraska. Eleanor moves around and is the new girl at school, and ends up being teased daily because of her red hair and weight (coining the nickname “big red”), only to come home to her poor home with an abusive, alcoholic stepfather. Park isn’t teased, but his half-Korean decent and his love of comic books over people makes him a loner. The two meet on the school bus and bond over comic books and music, even though there is little conversation. The two become more and more attached to each other over the course of the book and fall in love.
The characters Eleanor and Park were definitely the high points in the book. Independently, the way the author portrayed how different both of their lifestyles are and how it affected how they behave is brilliantly displayed throughout the book. When they met, I loved how both of their personalities collided and clashed at first, but overtime I felt as if the original integrity of their own personas was changed too drastically. The two characters by themselves are addicting, but their love together was extremely unbelievable. For example, I remember for the first few chapters they would barely exchange words, but a few chapters later Park admits his love for her. The way the book is written can be an annoyance at times because it is written from third person so the reader doesn’t get to understand what Eleanor and Park are thinking and why they acted a certain way, but this writing style was also amazing at some parts of the novel because you can see the overall outlook of the situation without the character’s emotions getting in the way. There isn’t a lot of humor, but Eleanor and Park’s sarcastic outlooks on events were pretty witty and funny. The plot and characters were a mixed bag with a lot of successes and failures, but gave a pretty entertaining overall product.
The memorable things about Eleanor & Park were the charming scenes sprinkled throughout the book. There were a lot of sad moments throughout the book, and the cuter scenes were something to distract the reader from feeling too upset. The bus ride and quirky moments with other characters were one of my favorite things about Eleanor & Park.
Review by Emily, grade 7, Twin Hickory Area Library