Eleanor & Park
“Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn't supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.”
Set against a backdrop of the 1980’s, rock music, and comic books, Eleanor & Park tells the story of how its title characters went from hating each other to being unable to live without each other. This quick read is narrated by both Eleanor and Park which gives the reader insight into the characters’ emotions, fears, and desires. Funny, sad, and engrossing, Eleanor & Park does an excellent job of capturing the confusion and excitement of a first love.
I loved so many elements of this novel. I loved the tone because it was honest and sarcastic and funny. The inner monologues of Eleanor and Park are so straightforward and relatable and the moments when the two characters were, unbeknownst to each other, in sync in their thought and feelings brought a smile to my face. I loved the characters because they weren’t one dimensional. Eleanor and Park had complicated families and problems beyond their relationship with each other. Their interest in music and comics was entertaining, and I liked the fact that Eleanor didn’t love every musician or writer just because Park did. And of course I loved the love story. Park and Eleanor’s feelings accurately reflect those of teenage love. Rowell does a great job of capturing the arc of a love story and how feelings develop and change over time. Readers of all ages can see themselves in these characters’ emotions and their countless insecurities. The only downside to this book was that as I was reading, I was constantly worried that tragedy would befall the characters or that the author would “screw it up” somehow. While the ending isn’t perfect, I’m not sure what a better solution would have been.