Eleanor and Park centers around the story of Eleanor, an imperfect teenager who comes from a harsh, degrading background. She is forced to attend a new school where she is the chubby redhead, or “Big Red” as some students call her. Her life seems hopeless and miserable until she meets Park. At first, they are silent toward one another, gradually moving towards non-verbal communication and eventually a relationship so sweet and innocent and wrought with the secrets of Eleanor’s family situation. Eleanor and Park, in the end, is a love story. It is two strangers becoming best friends, falling in love, and disregarding all barriers and social expectations.
I really enjoyed reading this book! It is not one’s typical love story, nor is it some cheesy teen romance or insincere fling. I loved how this novel tracks the relationship from its nonexistence to its tiny seed to its beautiful bloom. The plot is so unique, and I never knew what to expect. It kept me wanting to read, wanting to know more, wanting for everything to work out between Eleanor and Park. I especially love the end, because Rowell literally leaves the reader hanging until the last page!
I really just loved the simplicity and innocence of the relationship. The writing is so beautiful and sweet. The characters develop really well and in such a way that the reader grows with them. I love how they share a love of music and comics. I think my favorite part of the book was how their relationship first began, with Park reading a comic on the school bus and Eleanor reading over his shoulder. Then, one day, Park begins to take more time on each page because Eleanor reads slower than he, and then it all continues from there.
Review by Anna, grade 11, Tuckahoe Area Library