Posted by : Deborah Takahashi Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Plot Summary:
It's another school year for Park and all wants is to remain under the radar. However, when Eleanor boarded the bus, his life was about to change. Eleanor, the big girl with crazy red hair, is not only the new kid, but the prime target for any bully, especially Tina and Steve. As Eleanor searched for a seat, no one was willing to give her one. Out of frustration, and possibly pity, Park let her sit to next to him. However, he was far from a gentlemen because, before offering her a seat, he cursed at her and looked away. Life for Eleanor is very similar to the incident on the bus. After moving to a new home, Eleanor has to endure her stepfather (whom she does not get along with) and four younger siblings. Eleanor has never had her own room and all she has to her name are a few items that managed to make the move. Life was miserable and the only way should could control herself is to bury herself in books and music. Park really didn't mean to be cruel to Eleanor. In fact, Park has his own issues such as being bi-racial, having a younger brother who is taller than he is, and his uber macho father who can't seem to let Park's oddities alone. Park has always felt he could never fit in so he put up with the ignorant remarks and the stereotypes. Although he yelled at Eleanor, the first time they met, they have been able to form an understanding through comic books, mixed tapes, and short, quiet conversations, which ultimately to the inevitable: falling in love. However, Eleanor doesn't know how to explain to Park how terrible her home life is and that their relationship has to remain a secret. For Park, it's only a matter of time before he explodes because he wants more than anything to protect Eleanor. Despite all of the problems, Eleanor and Park have discovered what it means to be alive and themselves when they are together. This is story of first love, but like Romeo and Juliet, there is an immense amount of heartache as well. 

Critical Evaluation:
Rainbow Rowell has written a romance that everyone has experienced. Not only is this story directed at teens, adults will fall in love with it as well simply because we were all teenagers once. Eleanor & Park are average teens who have their own share of problems, but, all of those memories and pain disappears when they are together. Park admits to Eleanor that he needs her because she is the only person who understands him. For Eleanor, Park is the escape she needs because he is the only person who sees beyond her size and hair color. However, Park has what Eleanor does not, which is a stable home life. Because of Eleanor's abusive stepfather and abused mother, she cannot have luxuries such as comic books, music, and even a toothbrush. Although this is none of her fault, she cannot be honest with Park because she is ashamed of her situation. Granted, she loves her siblings more than anything, she wants nothing more but to get away from it all and Park gives her that chance by letting her live in his world (even if it's for a moment or two). I fell in love Park,myself, when he ended up beating up Steve for insulting Eleanor; it's not every day your boyfriend risks suspension, a swollen eye, and a broken nose to defend your honor. It was at that point that Eleanor realized that someone as cool as Park could love her and maybe, just maybe, that life would give her a break. Sadly, life is never that simple, especially when the people that were supposed to take of her are abusive,submissive, and dismissive. I wanted nothing than to crawl into this book and hold onto Eleanor and her siblings because all of them deserved so much more and, unfortunately, children do not get to chose their parents. This is the type of book where readers will want curl up on my couch and devour it because everything in this story is real; teens and adults know what it's liked to be love, to be bullied, to feel scared, and to feel that things seem hopeless. However, this story also shows what it's like to be crazy happy. This books has managed to transform me into the 16 year old girl I was knew and it was because of her that I feel that Eleanor and Park will have the happy ending that we all dream of. 

Information about the Author:
According to her website:
Rainbow Rowell writes books.
Sometimes she writes about adults (Attachments and Landline).
Sometimes she writes about teenagers (Eleanor & Park and Fangirl).
But she always writes about people who talk a lot. And people who feel like they’re screwing up. And people who fall in love.
When she’s not writing, Rainbow is reading comic books, planning Disney World trips and arguing about things that don’t really matter in the big scheme of things.
She lives in Nebraska with her husband and two sons.

Genre:
Teen Contemporary Fiction, Teen Romance

Reading Level/Interest:
Grades 10 & up

Books Similar to Eleanor & Park:

Awards & Recognition:
According to Amazon.com:

"This sexy, smart, tender romance thrums with punk rock and true love."
-- Gayle Forman, bestselling author of If I Stay

“Funny, hopeful, foulmouthed, sexy, and tear-jerking, this winning romance will captivate teen and adult readers alike.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Eleanor & Park is a breathless, achingly good read about love and outsiders.”
Stephanie Perkins, author of Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door

“The pure, fear-laced, yet steadily maturing relationship Eleanor and Park develop is urgent and breathtaking and, of course, heartbreaking, too.”—Booklist (starred review)

“Sweet, gritty, and affecting . . . Rainbow Rowell has written an unforgettable story about two misfits in love. This debut will find its way into your heart and stay there.”
--Courtney Summers, author of This Is Not a Test and Cracked Up to Be

“Rowell keeps things surprising, and the solution maintains the novel’s delicate balance of light and dark.” –Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“In her rare and surprising exploration of young misfit love, Rowell shows us the beauty in the broken.”—Stewart Lewis, author of You Have Seven Messages

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Deborah Takahashi
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My name is Deb and I am a Librarian who absolutely loves to read and recommend books to teen and tween readers. In this blog, you will find reviews on a variety resources ranging from books, movies, video games, and much more. Please feel free to leave any feedback, especially book recommendations!
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