Eleanor and Park
by Rainbow Rowell
reviewed by Morgan Sarno
Set in 1986, Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park is a unique love story of a very unique and unlikely couple.
Tenth grader Park Sheridan doesn’t know what to think when he sees the mess of a red head girl Eleanor Douglas for the first time on his bus. With her wild, pieced together outfit, messy hair, and chubby figure, he knows she will be a target for bullying from his friends. It was a known rule on the bus that once you had a seat, you shared it with no one for the rest of the school year, but out of necessity rather than kindness, for there were no more seats left and this ‘weird girl’ had to sit somewhere, Park lets Eleanor sit with him. Through sharing comics, mix tapes, and conversation, Eleanor and Park grow closer and open up about their very different family lives.
Eleanor’s mother divorced her good for nothing first husband and got remarried to Richie, who doesn’t have the best reputation in the neighborhood. After being kicked out, Eleanor moves back in with her family, including four little brothers and sisters, to Richie’s tiny house in the uneventful town of Omaha, Nebraska. Richie is an alcoholic and is abusive to Eleanor and her mother both verbally and physically. Eleanor’s mom is too scared to leave him and makes due with the little money they receive.
Park’s family on the other hand is the picture of perfect. His kind and accepting parents are what Eleanor has dreamed of. They treat her like she is their own daughter. However, Park has his own struggles of living up to his father’s expectations of how his son should dress and act.
Though this book seems like an typical teen love story, it takes a turn into a suspenseful mystery. Someone had been leaving mean notes on Eleanor’s books and Park was determined to find the culprit. Ultimately the story ends in a completely unexpected and heart wrenching twist.
While this book does deal with heavy topics such as abusive relationships, bullying, and not fitting in, Eleanor and Park is surprisingly light hearted and made me laugh throughout the book. I feel like the issues Eleanor and Park face are relevant and relatable to issues teens have today. I loved this book and it is now my all time favorite. I highly recommend it to anyone.