Eleanor & Park
by Rainbow Rowell
reviewed by Emily Gomez
In Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park, two teens, living in the ‘80s, are caught up in a love that will never last. Park, a half-Korean teenager, meets Eleanor, a crazy red-haired girl, on the bus one day. Instantly, they spark a love for one another that not even 400 miles can destroy. Throughout the book, Rowell addresses controversial themes that can young adults can relate to. Also, the author switches narrative, between Eleanor and Park, every chapter as well as using immense amounts of dialogue. Through these aspects of the book, Rowell tells an impeccable story of love and danger between two teens.
Domestic and child abuse, bullying, and body image are all themes that teens going through high school understand. In the beginning of the book, Eleanor was returning to her locker when she realized, “It was covered with Kotex pads” (Rowell 54). Eleanor was the less-fortunate, poorly dressed girl in school that everyone bullied. In every school or high school there are girls or people that want to embarrass or bully another. When Eleanor gets home, “she could hear them fighting” (Rowell 278). Them as in her mother and her stepfather. Rowell talks about the domestic abuse between Eleanor’s mom and stepdad. She speaks to the fact that it is a prevalent issue and can happen to anyone. The author informs the reader the importance of knowing that these problems exist and she does it among a group of people that are the future generation, young adults.
Normal novels are told from one single perspective; however, Eleanor and Park encompasses the point-of-view of both the main characters. Every chapter and even throughout one chapter, the story switches from Eleanor to Park. This helps the reader understand the thoughts from both characters. It aids the reader in seeing and feeling what Eleanor and Park are feeling at different times. This technique also helps to project two different views or opinions the author might have. By doing this, she also increases the level of emotion within the story. Because we are seeing two stories woven in to one, there is emotion being contributed from both stories. Through the intense sensation in the book, Rowell pulls the reader into the worlds of Eleanor and Park.
Through Eleanor and Park’s story, the reader can understand the importance of body image, bullying, and domestic and child abuse as well as feel immense emotion. Rowell grabs the reader and leads him/her through a great love story where it is impossible for everyone to end up happy. She demonstrates that even though love may mask the truth, it may never be enough for some. I’d recommend this book to anyone who wants to be shown the reality of life and that not everyone is happy.