Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park is heart warming and heart wrenching at the same time. This teen romance novel fills the reader with joy, hope, sadness, and despair at the same time. Rowell’s writing style puts a detailed picture into the reader’s mind and gives the reader a candid insight into the characters’ minds. Eleanor and Park follows two teenage misfits from different backgrounds who eventually fall in love. Eleanor comes from a broken family with an abusive, alcoholic stepdad and a helpless mother. Her family’s lack of money results in her coming to school with patched clothes and mismatched headbands and necklaces. This results in Eleanor being bullied. Park is a sort of popular half-white and half-Korean kid, and he’s insecure about his small physical appearance. He senses that his father is disappointed that he isn’t into taekwondo, and that’s he’s not as manly as the other men in the family. Eleanor and Park has an amazing story line, addresses social issues, and finds a way to make the reader feel everything that Eleanor and Park are feeling.
The thing that makes Eleanor and Park really stand out as a novel is that Park and Eleanor’s relationship is completely impossible. Eleanor is overweight, which in this society means that she is incapable of having a boyfriend. Park occasionally wears eyeliner, which is considered “gay”, so he can’t have a girlfriend. Eleanor’s parents’ loveless marriage shows that love doesn’t always conquer all. But Park’s “I would do anything for you” parents proves the opposite. These oddities bring the teenagers closer, and make the love story even more touching.
I would recommend Eleanor and Park to pretty much anyone because of it’s amazing story line, intriguing love story, and out-of-the-ordinary main characters.