Eleanor is the new girl in town, and with her chaotic family life, her mismatched clothes and unruly red hair, she couldn’t stick out more if she tried.
Park is the boy at the back of the bus. Black T-shirts, headphones, head in a book – he thinks he’s made himself invisible. But not to Eleanor… never to Eleanor.
Slowly, steadily, through late-night conversations and an ever-growing stack of mix tapes, Eleanor and Park fall for each other. They fall in love the way you do the first time, when you’re young, and you feel as if you have nothing and everything to lose.
I’ve wanted to read a Rainbow Rowell book for a long time but it was Book Club that gave me the kick in the pants to actually read Eleanor & Park. As a regular black sheep in the Loved Books List, I was a little worried that I wouldn’t enjoy it as much as so many other people have.
I thought Eleanor & Park would be a cute, sweet YA romance. What it actually is, is a rather dark, and at times almost depressing, story that is ultimately quite uplifting.
I loved Eleanor – I found her so easy to sympathise with, and I loved seeing her grow as a person despite a pretty terrible home life. The growth of both characters, as well as their relationship stopped the story from being all doom and gloom – watching them come together gradually was another point that really hooked me. It was so awkward and yet so perfect. And I loved Park’s mother – I just wish she had had a bit more page time as I found her background so fascinating.
Although it’s definitely not insta-love, at times the romance was a little too over-the-top for me – I could see why Eleanor and Park became so infatuated with each other because of their individual problems, and focusing on something good rather than something painful, but it times it distracted me further away from the issues than I wanted to be.
And 80’s pop culture references? SO MY THING. To me they are so appealing because I do remember the later part of the 80’s, but at times they felt a little forced, and at other times I actually felt a little confused because I actually forgot the time period. Which in a strange way is perhaps a testament to the strength of the plot because normally I’d be completely aware and analysing those references to make sure they were correct.
Overall, I enjoyed Eleanor & Park, and I’m not black sheeping it – it wasn’t the perfect book for my tastes, but I can fully appreciate why it would appeal to other readers, and I did really enjoy it. Definitely not my last Rainbow Rowell book!