Eleanor & Park
by Rainbow Rowell
reviewed by Kristen Asmar
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell is a romantic novel about the obstacles a couple, who are opposites, faces throughout high school. Eleanor is described as, “...the weird new girl at the back of the bus...” (Rainbow Rowell pg. 14). She is made fun of for her abnormal clothing style and her unperfect body. Eleanor immediately gets ostracized by all the social classes of high school. Between not being accepted by the popular kids and being forced to sit with the hipster asian kid who reads comics, Eleanor feels slivers of her home life. At home, Eleanor struggles with her abusive stepfather and her allusive mother. The only time Eleanor relaxes is when she is around her outcast friends and Park. Rowell illustrates Park to be a teenager forcefully put in the popular group. Park repeatedly shows his desire to get away from his old social group by fighting one of his old best friends and purposely not spending time with them whenever they invite him. Similar to Eleanor, Park has problems with his family. Park’s main problem with his family is that is they are attached to him too much, which results in the need for separation and disconnection. Instead, Park turns to his time with Eleanor on the bus reading comic books. As the year goes on, Park and Eleanor also develop a mutual love for music and each other. By switching from comic books to music, they grow closer together because they are always in close proximity and always talk about their opinions of the music. After this, Eleanor and Park begin their relationship and journeys to surmount the obstacles of bullying, discrimination, and hostility.
Rainbow Rowell uses literary devices to further enhance the reading quality. One literary device Rowell uses is changing the points of views of characters. By switching between Park’s and Eleanor’s views, Rowell creates a clearer understanding of how both characters feel. This allows the reader to not be entitled to trust one character’s values, but to observe other character’s values as well. Also, shifting points of views generates the curiosity of reader because of the need to hear everyone’s feelings about a situation. Another literary device Rowell uses is imagery. By using imagery, Rowell is able to take the reader to the setting and time of the novel, which helps to further understand the scene occurring. One example of imagery is: “He sat up, stood up, started pacing around his small room. He went to stand by the window- the one that faced her house, even though it was a block away…” (Rowell 109). Rowell uses visual imagery to take the reader to where Park is. By doing this, the reader is able to further visualize the setting, which makes it easier to understand the plot and the surroundings of the characters. This is important because environment is a huge role in the character’s values, and being able to see the environment, allows the recognition of why the characters are who they are.