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I know that I’ve been promising to post my review of Eleanor & Park for a while now and have been tied up with preparing to start at my new position, but here (finally), is my review.
Eleanor & Park begins in 1986 on the first day of school of the titular protagonist’s senior year of high school. Park is already established in the school and is more concerned with keeping his head down to avoid getting bullied and getting his driver’s license than he is with the new girl on the bus. Eleanor is a pudgy red-headed young woman with an odd fashion sense and a desperate home life, who is just trying to make it through her first day at her new school. At first, Park tolerates Eleanor, the two riding in silence, but over time, however, they begin to bond over comics (Alan Moore FTW!), and their love of music, particularly the Smiths. Their burgeoning romance is only marred by two things: Park’s seeming inability to live up to his father’s standard of what a “man” should be, and Eleanor’s abusive stepfather who has an unhealthy interest in her.
I would say more, but I don’t want to spoil this for anyone. This. Book. Is. Amazing! Seriously, go out right now and read it, I’ll wait.
Eleanor & Park is a funny, sexy, bittersweet yet hopeful coming-of-age story, and Rowell does an excellent job making Eleanor and Park feel like real teenagers, with all the messiness and conflicting emotions that that entails. The book does have explicit language and some sexual content (Park and Eleanor never get beyond heavy petting), and Rowell does an amazing job at addressing such issues as child abuse, bullying, and body image. In fact, Kaye Toal of Buzzfeed wrote a beautiful, impassioned article about how much this book meant to her, since it is one of the rare books where the heroine doesn’t become thin at the end, and who is still seen as beautiful and desirable. Dreamworks has already snatched up the movie rights, so you can bet that when the movie comes out this will be the next Fault in Our Stars, although I really hope they don’t make Eleanor thin. Overall, Eleanor & Park is an amazing book and I’d give it a 9 out of 10!
Oh, and if anyone’s interested, here’s a book trailer I made for it: