It’s the 1980’s and Park is on the school bus when Eleanor, the social outcast, gets on and tries to find a seat. He doesn’t know why but he moves his stuff over so that she can sit with him. He’s managed to relatively fly under the radar from any particular clique or group and so he tries to not befriend the girl that everyone makes fun of, for fear of retribution. However, day after day on the bus sitting together they start to slowly become friendly, sharing comic books and music, until that friendship blossoms into romance. The two of them garner the unwanted attention of school bullies and the realization of their very differing home lives while discovering love with each other.
I finished this book so many months ago and haven’t been able to bring myself to actually sit down and write this review. So often I have heard of people saying that certain books have given them “all the feels” and, honestly, I haven’t experienced that moment… until Eleanor & Park. This book gave me all the feels. Having been bullied myself in school, it’s one of the biggest societal issues that I feel extremely strongly about and books that deal with bullying and overcoming bullying are high on my reading list. More than ever we hear about bullying, with the internet making it so much easier for cyber-bullying to occur. Even though Eleanor & Park takes place in the 80’s, so much of this book still rings true to present day. Until we all learn to respect each other and bullying is eradicated, these types of stories will be relevant and timeless.
Eleanor & Park was so heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. There were so many moments where I found myself rooting for the star-crossed duo, but cringing as I wait for the other shoe to drop. Rowell has written such a beautiful love story in the midst of a very ugly world that Park and Eleanor have to live in.