Book Review : Eleanor and Park


eleanor and park by rainbow rowell

The story is set around 1980s with Eleanor and Park as the main characters (of course they are). Eleanor is a quite unfortunate girl with big red hair and likes to dress in menswear.  Her life is a tough one. She shares a tiny house with 4 younger siblings, her mother, and an abusive step father that treat his family badly (how can a father calls his daughter a cunt?). She's also been bullied for the rest of her life because of her overweight body and physical appearance. Despite her horrible life, she finally find something that at least brighten up her days.

Her meeting with  Park Sheridan on the school bus is a life changing experience. Park is half-korean and unlike Eleanor, his life is more normal compare to hers. He comes from middle-class family just like the rest of the community in his neighborhood. He lives close to Eleanor's house with a veteran father, korean mom, and younger brother named Josh. Although it may seems that Park has a normal life, in fact, He struggles with the acceptance of his father. He feels like an outsider inside his own family. Park doesn't share a mutual interest with both of his father and Josh, instead He's only interested in comic and music.


The love between them sparks when Park gives a sit to Eleanor on the bus. At first they sit silently, no talk. Park actually cannot stand in this situation as they sit together almost everyday. He feels like he has to say something, like hello or something, but in the end they just keep quite. However, Park suddenly notice that Eleanor likes starring at his comic. They both develop their relationship since then.

Rowell gives the narrative from two different point of view, so we are able to see what Eleanor and Park think in the same scene. Unlike any other romance novels that emphasize only from one perspective. I am actually a fond of this type of narrative because it gives me feeling like I am inside the character's mind. Also, Rowell tells a very very realistic story!! She describes every events in a natural way. She puts word by word beautifully. This is why everyone who has read feels like they can personally relate to this book so much. And since it's about teenage life, it will inevitably bring our youth memory back. Like John Green said, "Eleanor and Park reminded me not just what it's like to be young and in love with a girl, but also what it's like to be young and in love with a book."

eleanor and park quote
my favorite part!

Truthfully I only enjoy the first half of this book despite the fact that their romance is heartwarming. As much as the conflict is emerged, the ambience gets darker. From an awkward conversartion, confessing each other's feeling to emotionally abusive relationship between a father and a daughter. Somehow it can be stressful and even worse I get annoyed by Eleanor. It's tiring to see her grievance as if she is the weakest person in the entire world.

All in all, this is still worth to read and even this book is going to be filmed. I give 5 stars to the beautiful writing but only 3 for the development of the characters.

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