Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Publication Date: February 1st 2013
Eleanor & Park was such a beautifully written novel. I will say that at the start, I was unsure whether I was going to like this book or not, but the further I got into it the more I enjoyed it and became invested in the characters.
Eleanor & Park is set in the 80's and follows the lives of two teenagers. They come from completely different backgrounds but they fall in love. They meet on the school bus where the only place for Eleanor to sit is beside Park. Eleanor starts to read Park's comics from the corner of her eye which eventually leads to Park loaning her his comics. They start to talk and eventually they start to fall for each other.
Eleanor isn't the usual skinny and insanely beautiful character that you usually find in books, and that's why I loved her. Eleanor is overweight, insecure and has a very difficult family life. She also has to deal with the fact that she gets bullied at school for her weight and her hair colour. I really felt for Eleanor. She has such a tough life and it was horrible to see her go through all the stuff she did. But, Eleanor was a strong character. She dealt with everything and managed to hide her feelings and not let the bullies see that they got to her. I really admired her for that. On top of dealing with bullies at school, Eleanor was also dealing with an asshole of a step-father who also liked to bully her.
Park is a half Korean kid who is really likable so people don't really give him much trouble. His family life is pretty stable too and the only thing that really causes conflict in his family is Park's driving ability. I really adored Park though. Even though he judged Eleanor the first time she got on the bus, he was basically the only person who bothered to get to know her. He was such a caring and sweet character.
Eleanor & Park's relationship was adorable. I love how it started with Eleanor sneaking glances at Park's comics to them talking and holding hands. It was so sweet. It was refreshing to read about something so innocent. Eleanor & Park clearly really like each other and I just loved the progression of their relationship. Park was so protective of Eleanor and I loved that he stood up for her when she wouldn't do it for herself. He really cared about her.
From the synopsis you might just assume (like I did) that this is going to be a cute and adorable read about two teenagers falling in love for the first time. Well, yeah it is about that but there are a lot of other deeper story lines to this novel. Eleanor's family life isn't ideal. She lives with her mother, her asshole of a step father and her 3 siblings, and her and her siblings all sleep in the one room. Eleanor was getting bullied at school because of what she looked like and how she dressed. She was dealing with someone who was writing crude messages on her textbooks. She also had to put up with her asshole of a step-father who liked to bully her too. Eleanor had a tough life and it was heartbreaking to read about it.
Park didn't have much going on in his family life apart from the arguments with his dad over his driving. But Park and his father also clash when Park decides that he wants to experiment. Park and his dad are complete opposites so it's hard for them to see eye to eye.
The ending of this book was heartbreaking. I was so shocked to find out what had actually been happening and it made me sick to my stomach. I couldn't believe it. But Park was there for Eleanor and he really helped her. The last couple of chapters had me in tears, especially the last one. It was so heartbreaking and sweet at the same time.
Overall, this was such an adorable read about two teenagers falling in love that also addressed a few deeper story lines that really added to the story. I loved every single thing about this book and it's definitely one of my favourites of the year.