Title: Eleanor & Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
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.
Eleanor & Park was one of those books that I started reading because it received so much hype. From a title that showcased the name of a boy next to that of a girl’s, I have already made presumptions of how the basic plot would go. Girl meets boy, boy meets girl, chemistry between them ensues. Usually, such a predictable plot does not draw me in. However, when I closed the book after about fifteen hours of not putting it down, I was glad that I gave it a chance.
The difference between Eleanor & Park with the rest of the YA books that I mostly come across is the fact that the characters did not directly show an attraction towards one another at the moment when they first met. Were there strong feelings? Yes. Were they positive? Not really. Although such a scenario had been refreshing for me, I was truthfully anxious on how Rowell would develop the more than platonic relationship between Park and Eleanor into something romantic. I had been afraid that I would not be able to shake off the negative first impression that Park was described to have towards Eleanor.
Again, I was proven wrong.
The progression of the story and the character development were done in a clearly thought-out manner that I was falling in love with the story at the same pace the characters fell in love with one another. Rowell bid her time to let the characters of Park and Eleanor find their own rhythm, all the while without losing the interest of the reader. The book covers more than just a love story, it also highlights family and identity issues. Every scene in the book is significant in contributing towards the exploration of the characters’ disposition, which consequently gives them more depth.
However, the consequence of having a story that had been such a thrill up to the end creates expectations for the ending. Rowell’s conclusion to her characters’ tumultuous story, although perfectly logical and sensible, is what I could only describe as bland. Even so, it had been quite a blissful drift to a stop after losing myself in the story of Eleanor and Park.
If you are looking for a relaxing read for when you are already tucked in bed, or perhaps a friend to keep you company on the train ride home, Eleanor & Park would help you pass the time. I may not know what being in a romantic relationship would be like, but Eleanor & Park has opened the door to the mysteries of falling in love.
Rating: 4 / 5