Eleanor & Park is a YA 1980s coming-of-age novel by Rainbow Rowell.
It’s 1986 and Eleanor’s brilliantly red, curly hair makes her impossible to not see as she steps onto the school bus for the first time.
It also makes her an excellent target when you combine it with her odd, eclectic assortment of clothing and the fact that she’s brand new.
Unable to watch the horror show, Park offers her a seat by him – in urgent, angrily embarrassed undertones.
And then everything changes.
This is the moment that Eleanor and Park met their first love – each other.
I really don’t want to give more details of Eleanor & Park than that. I didn’t have more, and oh what an experience this novel was!!
I loved the slow burn to the romance – that it wasn’t attraction based but initially built on kindness, like interests, and sharing small, but significant, pieces of themselves. Startlingly authentic and genuine, I think it might be impossible for Eleanor & Park to not tug at your heartstrings.
Park is Asian and Eleanor is a chubby redhead – I liked that. It’s different. More real. Relatable.
This is a book that is truly touching, showing the epic-ness of ordinary life. It’s an emotional coming-of-age tale in 1986 – heart wrenching and refreshingly authentic in both good and bad ways.
So sad, yet at times so hopeful, Eleanor & Park highlights bullying and a terrible domestic situation, while also making you smile at the joy of first love. Bittersweet.
And – oh wow! What an end!!
Oh, I wanted more – desperately – yet I knew there was a perfection to it that I didn’t want touched.
Eleanor & Park is one that will stay with me.