Book Review: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowel

Eleanor park slim
You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll be thankful no one ever called you raghead because they think your ginger hair is reminiscent of a woman’s monthly visitor.

Finally, a book that basically tells the story of my childhood! Except I wasn’t chubby, I didn’t have a “womanly” figure (still don’t), I didn’t come from a broken home, I wasn’t kicked out of the house in middle school, I didn’t have to wear men’s shirts found at the local goodwill because my family couldn’t afford other clothes, I had more than two friends, I didn’t share a room with a million brothers and sisters, I didn’t have a stepfather threatening to kill me (or a stepfather at all, for that matter), and no one ever called me raghead (although I was called gorilla legs once). Small details, right?

Not to Eleanor. These are the details that she faces day in and day out; the details that made her life feel not worth living. And then one day, she met Park. It definitely wasn’t love at first sight. He reluctantly scooted over to share his bus seat with her when everyone else blatantly refused her a spot, and then went back to reading his comic book, completely ignoring her. She hated him and his friends, and he hated what sitting with her on the bus could potentially do to his social status. But gradually they grew on each other, and they began to realize even though their lives differed in nearly way possible, they aligned in their senses of humor and interests – the important things. But of course, when a vindictive stepfather is involved, nothing can stay peaches and cream forever, can it?

Eleanor and Park may not have been a literary masterpiece, but every now and then a girl just wants to read a story about love. Even better: first love. You know it’s meant to be when a guy leans over and whispers, “You can be Han Solo… and I’ll be Boba Fett. I’ll cross the sky for you.” There is just nothing that can stand in the way of Star Wars love, people.

There’s not much more I can say about this one. It will tug at your heartstrings, it will make you sad, it will make you furious (especially near the end), it will make you happy, it will make you hopeful, and it will make you laugh. More than anything, it will make you feel. Here’s a prime example: “DeNice and the other girl, the big girl, Beebi, talked to Eleanor now in gym. (Because being assaulted with maxi pads is a great way to win friends and influence people.)”

I apologize for ending with a quotation about maxi pads, but you’re just going to have to deal with it.

Final Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

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