Eleanor & Park has been on my list of books to read ever since I heard about it. I judge books by their covers even though I'm not supposed to, and this book was no exception. I thought the book cover was just adorable. I knew it would be a story I enjoyed because it seemed like a cute teen love story with some type of music incorporation. What more could you want?
“It was the nicest thing she could imagine. It made her want to have his babies and give him both of her kidneys.”
“Nothing before you counts," he said. "And I can't even imagine an after."
“The first time he'd held her hand, it felt so good that it crowded out all the bad things. It felt better than anything had ever hurt.”
Eleanor & Park tells the story of an unlikely pair of high school students falling in love for the first time in 1986. Eleanor is the new girl at Park's school (and on his bus), and their lives just sort of fell together when Park let Eleanor sit on the bus with him when none of the other kids would. Their friendship started when Park noticed Eleanor reading along with his comic books then Park decided to let Eleanor borrow a few comics to read on her own. Mind you, they hadn't spoke two words to each other up to this point. Time together on the bus eventually led to time together outside of school because Eleanor was determined to spend as little time as possible in her broken home with her awful step-father, selfish mother and naive siblings.
One thing I loved about this story was that the two main characters aren't the typical teens you read about in young adult novels. Park is a Korean who loved rock music and comic books who came from a relatively wealthy family, and Eleanor is an overweight redhead who came from two broken families. When I say unlikely pair, I mean unlikely pair. Even the people in the book wouldn't have put them together. I spent the whole book rooting for them because everyone else around them was against their relationship.
Eleanor & Park took me through a rollercoaster of emotions. I was frustrated, hurt, happy, sad, mad, excited. This book will make you feel everything and really take you through the stages of finding your first true love, both the good parts and the bad parts. I loved the honesty the two of them shared with each other and how they wouldn't let anyone stand in the way of their improbable romance. Bonus: the story was told from both of their perspectives, so you really get to know each of the characters on an incredibly close personal level.
Without giving anything away, I will say that the ending was pretty unexpected. Everything about it was unpredictable, but understandable.
I give this book a 4.5 out of 5. It was a great, quick read, and I'm a sucker for a strange love story.
For more about author Rainbow Rowell and her book, Eleanor & Park, check out her website, like her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.