I felt compelled to use the ampersand more than anything else, because Eleanor & Park, you know.
I haven’t been so struck by YA literature since I last read John Green’s Looking for Alaska, but Rainbow Rowell knew what she was writing about when she imagined a red-haired wonder and an Asian-Irish boy in high school.
If you are willing to give this book a chance and willing to actually believe that YA is becoming smarter and is giving more hope to more book-reading children of the future, stop reading now. Stop denying yourself the pleasure of reading this novel.
Eleanor & Park is a love story. Let’s get that out of the way right now. It is a teenage love story set in 1986, a time when technology hasn’t made it convenient yet to be in love. I believe this is the characteristic that endeared me the most to Rowell’s debut novel.
Eleanor is a red-haired newbie in the neighborhood, armed with a crapfull of family baggage and horror stories. Park is that wonderfully-raised Asian punk rock comic book guy, whose parents come with a perfect love story to boot. They have to be two of the most relatable characters you’ll ever meet. Right off the bat, you’d know there’s nothing that stunning about them. Until you get to know them.
This novel was filled with every single thing I loved about my childhood. Playgrounds, tape decks, the Walkman. Comic books, sneaking out, Avon. Really, I think Rowell wrote this book millenials. I loved every bit of it.
What is even more attracting is the depth Eleanor & Park took us. The characters bloomed right before your eyes, and the simple became complicated without it being too hard to decipher. I don’t want to give too much away, but seriously, the ending is not something you would see coming… at the same time, right-on-the-money, tug-at-your-heartstrings fantastic.
It’s actually this kind of writing that gives me quite a lot of hope for my nephews and nieces. The advent of technology and the end of Harry Potter made me worry that push-button entertainment would be more powerful than the written word.
Then you pick up a John Green book or this beautiful prose by Rainbow Rowell, and you just know the world is right again.
And if this quote won’t encourage you to read Eleanor & Park, you are made of stone.
4.2 out of 5 stars