Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publication date: February 26, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Rating: 5 stars
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Eleanor and Park is one of those books that took the blogging world by storm and it seemed that no matter where I went, someone was raving about how wonderful the story was. Once I read this book, I understood why.
Eleanor is the new girl. Fiery red hair. Overweight. Mismatched second-hand clothes. She's impossible for the kids on her bus to ignore, and I don't mean that in a good way. That first day on the bus, everyone else looked at her with scorn and no one would offer her a seat. Except Park.
He did it grudgingly, mind you, but he offered the strange, new girl his seat. And despite their initial apathy towards one other, through comic books and mix tapes, apathy becomes curiosity, curiosity becomes friendship, and friendship becomes something more. Their little daily interactions on the school bus set in motion a slow-building and beautiful love story between two very unlikely people.
First off, I would just like to applaud the author for creating a heroine who's not the girl that everyone falls over themselves for. As much as I like reading about kickass female warriors, I also appreciate it when an author creates a girl who isn't perfect. Not personality-wise. I mean physically. In a world where 99.99% of literary heroines are either wiry and lithe, athletic and toned, or slim yet curvy, it was so refreshing to have a girl with weight issues that a lot of readers can empathize with.
Eleanor and Park together... those two are like my babies. And I swear I do NOT mean that in a creepy way. I just feel protective of them. Like I want to carry them around in my pocket and hide them from all the bad things in their lives. Because there are bad things. While Park's life is considerably normal, blessed with relative popularity and parents who love him and are in love, Eleanor's is a broken mess. The disparity between their home lives was heart-breaking and it made me all the more protective of their budding relationship which was the one bright spot in their lives.
This book was romantic, beautiful, and disarmingly real. There was nothing clichéd or typical about Eleanor and Park's love story. There are some books that you read and you fall in love with the characters - meaning you fall in love as they do, you feel what they feel. This is one of those books. And that's what makes it so powerful.
All in all:
I had a hard time writing this review because this is one of those stories that leave your heart a little tender and bruised. It was beautiful in a way that made me ache a little because I had fallen so deeply in love with the characters. Eleanor and Park is a book that demands to be remembered not only because of its gorgeous writing or poignant story but also because of how it brings attention to issues that will always be important.