You know how I said geeky romance is my secret weakness? Well, in that case, Eleanor and Park is my Kryptonite.
One extraordinary love.
Eleanor… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough…Eleanor.
Park… He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises…Park.
Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.
*This is a spoiler free review!*
I went in expecting this to be a lighthearted, cute, fluffy book.
This was not a lighthearted, cute, fluffy book. I repeat: this was not a lighthearted, cute, fluffy book.
Eleanor and Park is one of the most realistic and relatable YA romances I’ve read so far (although the list is, admittedly, not very long). It’s a story about two misfits falling in love. But it was also heavier than that- Park’s father was incredibly unsupportive of him, while Eleanor came from about as close to a broken home as you can get.
The characters don’t fall in love right off the bat (far from it). Their relationship developed far more slowly than most YA romance. They start off despising each other, but then Eleanor starts reading comic books over Park’s shoulder on the bus, and boom. They start to form a friendship, and then later, they fall in love.
I loved Eleanor and Park’s characters both, and the secondary characters were really interesting as well. It would’ve been really cool if you got to see more about some of said secondary characters, though (especially Eleanor’s siblings). Like, they seemed interesting, but also underdeveloped? I guess it was understandable for a romance novel, though- Rowell wanted to focus on the main characters, and I get that.
The characters really did suck me in, though- a good thing, since this book’s plot was definitely not its strong point. Like, was there even a plot, aside from “Eleanor and Park are in love”? There were a lot of good moments, but it wasn’t very satisfying as a whole, if you get what I mean.
There wasn’t enough character growth for my tastes, either (which was odd, since Fangirl- also by Rainbow Rowell- did wonderfully in the department). Neither of the main characters are particularly self confident; I would’ve liked to have seen them help each other learn to accept themselves the way they are, but instead they required each other’s validation, which was frustrating.
Also, I’m going to avoid spoilers here, but the ending wasn’t very satisfying. It didn’t make sense, in context of the rest of the story. It didn’t fit.
But, I mean, even though it wasn’t the most well written book I’ve ever read, I still loved Eleanor and Park. I guess it’s because, like I said before, it was relatable. It wa about geeky misfits bonding over a shared love of comic books and punk rock. Eleanor and Park wasn’t one of the best books I’ve ever read, but it was still one of my favorites, if that makes sense. I’d give it 8/10 stars, and definitely recommend it to anyone who likes Fangirl or John Green’s books.