Rowell, Rainbow. (2011). Eleanor & Park. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press. ISBN 9781250012579.
Eleanor & Park is an unexpected love story between two teenagers who feel that they don’t quite belong. Eleanor Douglas is a plus sized girl with red curly hair and a fashion sense all her own. Park Sheridan is a biracial teenage boy trying to find his place in Omaha, Nebraska. He doesn’t fit in but he doesn’t stand out until the new girl at school, Eleanor, sits next to him on the bus. After sharing his comic books with her and letting her listen to his mix tapes, they enter into a crazy and sweet romance. Ripe with nerves and uncertainty, the pair decides that despite the odds they want nothing more than to be together.
I’ve read a lot of books lately and this book, without a doubt, takes the cake on being the best of them all. I love absolutely everything about Eleanor & Park’s romance. I love how much Park loves Eleanor. I love that he isn’t afraid of it. I love that he hesitates at first but once he’s in, he’s all in. He gives it everything. He fights for her. He fantasizes about her. He thinks she’s perfect and he thinks she’s weird. Park is the kind of guy every insecure high school girl wishes she had in her life.
Author John Green says, “Eleanor & Park reminded me not just what it’s like to be young and in love with a girl, but also what it’s like to be young and in love with a book.” It does that and so much more. From the moment Park holds Eleanor’s hand for the first time, I was hooked. I didn’t put it down again. I devoured their story with girl-like wonder and enthusiasm. I wanted to be Eleanor (except for the whole crappy home situation). I wanted to have Park in my life. I thought how wonderful it would’ve been to be sixteen and have someone love me like that. Something so real, so raw, and so new. Park is a rockstar of a boyfriend. Sure, he doesn’t always do things right, but what sixteen-year-old boy does? Eleanor is a mess. Her life is a mess. And she can’t hold it together on her own. Park becomes her glue and together they are a beautiful pair.
I spent much of the book envying them and cheering them on. When I finished, I cried. Tearing streaming down my face, I told my husband that it isn’t fair! That Eleanor and Park didn’t get a fair shake. That I can’t believe what she did to him. Denying him. Forgetting him. I hated her. I hated her so much that I threw the book across my living room. I’m a librarian, throwing a book is a big no-no but I was angry. I was sad. My heart was broken. I was Park. I don’t want to give too much away, but when I explained what happened to my husband, what Eleanor said, what she did, the path their relationship took he said, “But doesn’t that make sense for a couple of sixteen year olds? Can’t you see some high school girl rationalizing that in her head?” And yes, I can. But that doesn’t mean I like it. Because I don’t. I love love love love LOVE this book. I hate the way it ended. But I love the rest of it and I wish I had that kind of love in my life in high school. But since I didn’t, it was at least nice to imagine what it would’ve been like to have my very own Park. I hope every high school girl out there has a Park one day because the world would be a better place and life would be sweeter.
2013 Boston Globe Horn Book Award for Best Fiction Book.
As of today, Rated best teen & young adult book of 2013 by Amazon.com (so far)