Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell is a heart-jerker of a book. It’s a book so poignant and enjoyable that I had to invent a word for it. Right from the beginning, I fell in love with this book and I read it like my life depended on it.
Set in the 80s, it tells the story of two teenagers Eleanor and Park who sit together on the school bus each day and go from not acknowledging each other to bonding over comics and music and then something deeper.
But life is complicated for Eleanor as the new kid in school. She battles with a poor body image and her red hair, terrible clothes and weight makes her a target for bullies at school. Life at home is just as bad as she has an abusive stepfather and is living in poverty.
Park has a great family but battles with his identity and what it means to be half Korean. He is also the son of a Vietnam vet and struggles to measure up to his dad’s expectations.
Eleanor & Park was simple in its story construction with short and sweet chapters told from Eleanor and Park’s point of view. The short chapters made me speed read this to the extent that I finished this in a day.
It was funny and downright tragic at times and took me right back to the agony and ecstasy that is being a teenager. From first love, being new at school, dealing with bullies, issues like poverty and domestic abuse and body image there was a lot going on.
I actually didn’t know this was a YA novel when I put it on my Christmas wish list but it still resonated with me. I loved it! What a beautiful book. If I rated books I would definitely give this 5 stars for hitting me right in the heart.
The only downside to this book was the ending which left me hanging and left me with questions. I hope Rainbow Rowell writes a sequel someday. Or maybe it’s perfect as it is because as in life not everything has a perfect conclusion.
Verdict: Give this a read if you want a huge dose of the feels, 80s nostalgia and want to reminisce about your high school crush.