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Eleanor & Park

Eleanor & Park - Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor & Park is the first book I have read by Rainbow Rowell and I am officially a fan.   I bought this book for my sister for Christmas who also happened to give it to my 14-year-old daughter.   They are both avid readers and when my daughter finished it in 2 days I figured I should see what I was missing.  Set in 1986 it is the story of two sixteen year-old misfits – Eleanor the overweight, red-haired new girl with wacky clothes & Park the geeky comic-loving Asian kid with a penchant for eyeliner.  They meet on the school bus, which has all the social challenges of the school cafeteria.   Park begrudgingly lets Eleanor sit next to him and as the story progresses he ends up sharing not only his beloved comics, but also his heart. 


The story is told from alternating points of view and the characters ring true.  Eleanor’s home life is miserable – she shares a bedroom with several younger siblings and tiptoes around an abusive stepdad.  In contrast, Park has a loving family, but feels like an outsider.  While Park may feel misunderstood at home, his parents are supportive and connect with him on the commonality of knowing what it is like to love someone who is different.


Eleanor & Park will catapult you back to your teen years and the uncertainty, heartache, and sweetness of first love.  I loved this book & I think you will too – it made me cry, gasp and swoon (Park had me at hello with his first mix tape for Eleanor of the Smiths and Joy Division).  Now I am off to raid my daughter’s bookshelf to find my next book…