Genre: Contemp(-ish) YA
Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.
So I caved and read this before going home! I've just finished a couple of good but dreary classics for my dissertation (post to come) and wanted to read something warm and lovely and this was perfect for that!
So yes, I liked this a lot! I loved that Eleanor was a plus size protagonist and how her experience was shaped, but never defined by that alone. I liked how her family situation was constantly present and was a real driving force in the story rather than being just detail. I liked the way Park's experience regarding being mixed-race was dealt with (at least at the beginning) though I wish there had been more about his relationship with his dad. I ADORED the way that Eleanor and Park's relationship slowly shifted from acquaintances to friends to romance. The scenes of the early stages of their friendship were probably my favourite - Rainbow Rowell really nailed the feelings of relief and elation that go along with making a new friend who you really connect with. The first mixtape bit was particularly wonderful - all of the different threads (i.e. them as individuals + their friendship) came together perfectly and (you guessed it) made me cry! Once Eleanor and Park were officially together I think the book lost some of that sense of wonder and charm but I was more than happy to spend another hundred pages or so with them to see how their story would end!
My first boyfriend was a friends-turned-romantic type situation so Eleanor & Park made me very nostalgic for being 16! Mostly joyful, sometimes heartbreaking, Eleanor & Park was bursting with love and I highly recommend it!