Summary (via Goodreads):
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
Eleanor & Park completely surprised me with how enjoyable it was for this self proclaimed non-contemporary reader. The story was gripping and endearing in all its awkward glory of youth and two teens that didn’t fit the mold but fit each other perfectly. This book took me through so many emotions; sometimes I was smiling and feeling butterflies in my belly. At other times I wanted to throttle Eleanor’s mother for her lack of spine. The pacing was perfectly slow but not in the least bit boring.
This book touched on disturbing topics such as parental abuse and neglect. Subject matter that mirrors our reality and situations people are actively suffering from tend to make me sad and I stay away. Somehow, even though this book heavily addressed abuse I was able to handle it and enjoy reading. The glimmers of hope and pure love pulled me through.
I can’t give my thoughts on the story without addressing the characters since Eleanor & Park was essentially a study of these two individuals. Rowell created such vivid and unique characters they actually ceased to be characters and became people to me. I don’t think I can listen to a Smith’s song without thinking about Eleanor or Park. Rowell’s smooth and seamless writing style gave me such insight into these two and even the secondary characters I really felt like I was eavesdropping on their lives.
I’m not sure I’d classify myself as a fan of contemporary fiction, but I will always have a place in my heart for Eleanor & Park. I’m pretty confident I’ll be reading another Rainbow Rowell book at some point.