By Rainbow Rowell
REVIEW by Sharon Moses
In her novel Eleanor and Park, Rainbow Rowell captures the romance between two young social misfits so beautifully. It’s awkward, it’s adorable, it’s painful, it’s heartbreaking and it’s so, so moving.
I can relate to the characters, being a teenager around their age, and that makes this book even more special. Eleanor and Park are nothing alike; they come from different backgrounds, they live different lives, they have different destinies written for them, yet how they manage to find their first love in each other is a story worth reading.
Eleanor is a ‘big and awkward’ girl with fiery red curls who just moved to Omaha. She comes from a broken home — her stepfather is a raging alcoholic who abuses her mother and treats Eleanor horribly — and her family is terribly poor. Her outfits, her hair, her size are often ridiculed by the kids at her new school but she has learnt to ignore them after being subjected to years of verbal abuse at home.
Park is a skinny boy with Asian features who has lived in Omaha his entire life. He comes from an interracial family — his mother is Korean and his father is American — and his home is filled with love. But despite that, he believes that he is a disappointment to his father because he finds interest in music and comic books instead of taekwondo, and he has self-confidence issues. He chooses to keep to himself in school.
Ms. Madden recommended Eleanor and Park to me a few weeks ago and I have been absolutely smitten since I read Rowell’s description of Eleanor. Most of the young adult novels I’ve read tell tales of characters so unattainable, so naturally perfect ... “Jeans hung low on his hips, revealing a thin line of dark hair that formed below his navel and disappeared under the band of the jeans. His stomach was ripped. Perfect. Totally touchable” (Obsidian by Jennifer Armentrout) ...
Do you see what I mean?
Eleanor and Park are far from your typical definition of ‘attractive’, and that that was one of the many things that drew me in. Rowell’s book gave me an oddly pleasant break from the usual. I enjoyed reading about the imperfect life of Eleanor Douglass, and her unlikely relationship with Park Sheridan, as much as, if not more, than reading about Bella Swan’s (Twilight by Stephenie Meyer) seemingly perfect one.
For everyone who doesn’t believe in fairytales, Eleanor and Park is a must-read.
— Sharon Moses