Eleanor and Park - YA Review by Elise S.

Reader: Elise S.
Age: 17
Title: Eleanor and Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pub Date: 02/26/13
Galley: Yes
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: So this book, Eleanor and Park, you should read it. You should read it because it discusses body image and poverty. You should read it because the writing crackles with emotion and energy. But the real reason you should read it, is because it will make you laugh and cry and melt your heart.
Two crazy kids, star crossed lovers, you’ve read it before. What differentiated this book was the incredible, down-to-earth reality of both the main characters.
While the characters had flaws, their flaws also grew from the environment and situation they were in. We’ve all read the so-called ‘issue books,' where it’s obvious that the author sat down to write a book about a character who is gay/black/asian/lesbian/is an immigrant/has a disability. They are well intentioned. They are occasionally informative. They are so very boring. Eleanor and Park avoided this pitfall simply by telling the story first. The author’s priority was always getting the character’s voice into the world, not sending a message about _insert issue here_. The amazing part is, that this story got told with grace, humor, and heart, while confronting painfully real issues of domestic violence, immigration, bullying, abuse, and poverty.
Memorable or Forgettable: Characters were the most compelling aspect of the novel. The plot was fairly basic; the people were anything but. I felt connected to both Eleanor and Park through their insecurities. Too often, authors make their character’s “weakness” insignificant, or a disguised strength. Harry Potter cares too much about his friends. Percy Jackson is too selfless. But I don’t know any real person with these flaws.

Eleanor was constantly insecure about her body; her low self-esteem was a real impediment to her being able to trust. Park’s insecurities about fitting in and maintaining the status quo hurt him in very real ways over and over. Their flaws as characters stuck throughout the book, and watching them wrestle with their issues made me root for them to succeed, and hold my breath worrying that they wouldn’t.
Cover: Way too much cuteness for one cover! The simplicity and sweetness was absolutely perfect for the book. It being hand-drawn tied right in, and it was fairly unobtrusive, like the characters. Even though it isn't the loudest cover on the shelf, it definitely calls attention to itself.
Age Range: 12 through 17
Quality: 5Q Hard to imagine a better book
Popularity: 5P Everyone wants to read it
Annotation: Eleanor just moved to a new school, and back in with her mom and abusive stepdad. Park just tried to fly beneath the radar. They were not supposed to happen, but a tender love grew out of comic books, bus rides, and insecurity.

tags: contemporary / realistic fiction / historical fiction / romance / love / coming-of-age / challenged book / ya lit

No comments: