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I’m a big fan of Rainbow Rowell. It seems like all of her books affect me much more than those from other authors. I can count on one hand all the times I’ve cried while reading in recent memory… and her books are all but one. Now I’ve been sitting here for the last two weeks, trying to put my thoughts into words. It’s not going well, but I’m trying.
Eleanor is an outcast. She’s targeted by almost everyone because of her weight, her clothes, her flaming red hair. Her home life is awful – her father couldn’t care less about her, and her mother married an awful man who makes no move to hide his hatred of Eleanor. Their family lives in a dilapidated two-bedroom home, where Eleanor shares a bedroom with her four siblings and their bathroom doesn’t even have a door. They don’t even have money for things like toothpaste and shampoo. But Eleanor is strong, and she’ll put up with whatever she has to until she can get out on her own.
Park is the only Asian kid at his high school. He loves comic books and the kind of music his classmates don’t listen to. This makes him a bit of an outcast too. But his home life is pretty good. His parents love him, and each other, and although they don’t see eye to eye all the time, he knows they’re looking out for his best interests. At first, Park wants nothing to do with Eleanor. She’s the weird girl who constantly sits next to him on the bus. But when Park notices Eleanor reading his comics over his shoulder, a beautiful friendship – and, eventually, love – begins to form.
In each other, Eleanor and Park find a very sweet, loving relationship that is based on what’s inside rather than physical appearances. Their relationship builds and builds and builds… until it doesn’t. The ending, while it made sense in the context, disappointed me. What had been so carefully constructed fell apart, and no amount of quirky references or adorable love scenes could quite make up for that.
Still, Eleanor & Park is highly recommended.
Final rating: ★★★★☆
For my 2015 reading challenge, I’m crossing off #38: a book that made you cry.