Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
What a lovely, beautiful little story about being young and different and in love.
Eleanor and Park is the love story of an alternative Asian boy, Park, and a poor redhead, Eleanor. Neither one really feels like they fit in with the world around them, and at first, ignore one another, something close to animosity between them. As time passes, however, feelings warm up and Park eventually pushes past Eleanor’s cold, hard exterior.
At home, Eleanor has to deal with an abusive stepfather, four younger siblings, and a weak mother. She’d already been kicked out of the house once and forgotten about, and the story begins with her return to the family. Her house is small, her family poor, and her stepfather an utter and complete asshole. Park is the light in her life.
The characters are easy and real. They didn’t feel forced, and their relationship is natural. This isn’t a YA romance or fantasy where they fall in love immediately. It takes time, the progression slow and not forced.
The book is written with dual perspectives, flipping back and forth between the two main characters. Sometimes when this is done, it seems forced, but here it flowed really well, and the breaks made sense. At times, all one of the characters might say is a simple sentence or phrase before it flips back to the other, because that’s all they needed to say. While the writing style didn’t change much between the characters, it was nice to see what each character was thinking and going through, even if they did sound somewhat similar.
This isn’t just a love story, though; it’s also a story about accepting yourself and others; it’s a story about a girl in a bad situation; it’s a story about growing up.