In a nutshell, Eleanor and Park is about two teenagers bonding over music and mixed tapes.
But the depths this book goes to are so much deeper than that, and I found myself falling in love with these characters.
From Eleanor’s difficult living situation to Park’s typically overbearing mother, there was a lot in this to relate to.
There are so many stories retelling teen angst that border on 1 dimensional caricatures of a teenager, that the genre has become riddled with cliches. The embarrassing scenes, normally involving some sort of awkward sexual encounter.
But what I love about Eleanor and Park is that Rowell manages to sidestep those cliches and create two beloved characters that are more true to life than true to the genre. In as much as I flinch with them in their embarrassments, I also rejoice with them in their successes.
Most of all, this book gave me such a sense of nostalgia, but not only that…a heavy desire to go back in time to high school and re-live some of the best times.
I wasn’t quite prepared for the ending of Eleanor and Park, which I won’t give away (no spoilers here!), but I will say that after I thought about it; I was really pleased with how it turned out. It felt all the more real because it didn’t end how I wished it would.
Prepare yourself for some heavy nostalgia, no matter what decade you grew up in. And also be prepared to make a list of songs you’d put on a mixed tape for your crush.
On the dust jacket
Eleanor is the new girl in town, and she’s never felt more alone. All mismatched clothes, mad red hair and chaotic home life, she couldn’t stick out more if she tried. Then she takes the seat on the bus next to Park. Quiet, careful and – in Eleanor’s eyes – impossibly cool, Park’s worked out that flying under the radar is the best way to get by. Slowly, steadily, through late-night conversations and an ever-growing stack of mixed tapes, Eleanor and Park fall in love. They fall in love the way you do the first time, when you’re 16, and you have nothing and everything to lose. Set over the course of one school year in 1986, Eleanor and Park is funny, sad, shocking and true – an exquisite nostalgia trip for anyone who has never forgotten their first love.
About Rainbow Rowell