~ Spoiler Alert: Book Review: Eleanor and Park by: Rainbow Rowell ~
Eleanor is the new girl at school made evidently more obvious by her curly red hair, eccentric clothes, and round size. While Park, will always stand out in his hometown because of his half-Asian background. He tries to live a low key life but finds that changing after having to share a bus seat with Eleanor.
I walked into this book having some expectations since I bought it after reading and falling in love with Fangirl (another one of Rainbow Rowell’s book), and it did not disappoint. I don’t know where to begin with Eleanor and Park. The first thing I need to get off my chest is that I believe the author captured the beauty and confusion of a young, first love perfectly. It starts off slow as you find yourself paying attention, as you find the common interest, as you start opening up, and as your flaws become something the other person loves. Each step of the way you are following the characters for better or for worse. I love that they share music because I still remember the CD’s my ex-boyfriend from middle school made for me.
After finishing the book, I searched the internet to find out more about the ending. The way the book ended made you yearn for more, but not in a bad way where you felt like the book was unfinished, not at all. It was done in a way that added more emotions to your already full plate. By the end, you are rooting for these two characters so much. You are scared that their young age and lack of independence will tear them apart especially because of Eleanor’s terrible home life. They are meant to be, aren’t they? They will end up together, right? What are the three words? I was on the author’s website, and I have to say, reading her interview answers makes me respect her even more. I think it’s great that the ending is up to interpretation. I know in my heart they will definitely meet again. They just have to. As for if I thought the three words were ‘I love you’ – I want to say no. I know Eleanor never expresses her love for Park in those exact words, but I don’t think she would through a post card like that. It has to be something else. I don’t know what it is. I am racking my head trying to think of the perfect three words, but I am not settling for ‘I love you’. What do you think?
By the way, as an Asian-American, I thought it was great to see a main male Asian character in a YA novel. Thank you, Rainbow Rowell. I also read your answer to the question as to why Park is Korean in the first place. Once again, thank you. I was extremely satisfied with the answer. I think you did a wonderful job with your characters in this book and in Fangirl.
Last thing, I knew the step-dad was creepy because the repeated mentioning of there being no bathroom door or shower curtain. Additionally, Eleanor noticed how Park’s dad was sizing her up and not checking her out. However, I did not make the link that he was the one writing those vulgar notes on her textbook until the last possible minute. I was disappointed that I was so distracted that I did not see that. Good job!
One more thing, I cannot believe the PE teacher knew Eleanor was being bullied and wanted to have nothing to do with it. Working at a school, I don’t know what I would do if a colleague let students bully other students. That’s just wrong. On the topic of wrong, there’s Sabrina, Eleanor’s mom. Her self-worth and happiness was so dependent on the fact of having a man in her life that she would put the man first and endanger her own children’s life. That’s just sad because on the opposite on the spectrum, you have Park’s parents who are still so madly in love and one of the few parents not divorced. Besides the focus of Eleanor and Park’s blossoming young love, readers can also get a glimpse of bully, family problems, and race. I don’t know why anyone would dislike this book. I recommend that everyone go read this book. I will even lend you my copy. 😉
I know I talked about how I would like to see a second book for Fangirl, if there is one. If there will never be one, I will be okay with that also. As for Eleanor and Park, I think… At first, I thought a second book would be nice. I do want them to end up together. Yet, these characters are too precious. They should stay in their youth, and I already know they will be together forever. : ) However, if Rainbow Rowell ever wants to write a follow-up, I will definitely read it. I can’t get enough of her books. I went to the bookstore and bought Carry On. I won’t be having any leisure time in the near future to read it, but once I do, I am just going to dive right into it.