UPDATE: Thank you Polyvore for adding this set on Top Sets on 27th August 2013.
It’s funny how I came across this book...I was basically wasting time on tumblr and was looking at Rookie Magazine’s tumblr. There was a post of books with the Smiths reference and I thought ‘oh this looks interesting.’ (I like the Smiths, that’s why.) And then I looked on the positive reviews on GR and thought better check this one out!
It’s a YA contemporary novel set in 1986. It’s a love story between Eleanor and Park. Eleanor, is described as a chubby and plain redhead, and Park is half-Korean. These two misfits meet on the school bus. Everyone takes a instant dislike to Eleanor, the new girl and she doesn’t do herself any favours by dressing up really weird in men’s clothes. Everyone on the bus is really mean, saying she can’t seat there, but then takes a reluctant seat next to Park, after he orders her to. When Park lets Eleanor borrow a stack of comic books to read, a friendship slowly begins to develop over comics and mix tapes.
“Eleanor was right: she never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.”
I think this was a really sweet story about teenage love and there were some really nice heart-warming quotes. It has an element of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ in it because if her stepdad finds out, he will go mental (he goes mental over the silliest things. He has anger problems). There are often arguments at night between Eleanor’s mum and her stepdad. I really felt bad for Eleanor, being the oldest of five siblings, I thought she had a really hard family life. Park, on the other hand had a perfect happy family. He’s living in a stable house with parents who are still together.
What I liked about this story was that it was not a typical love story and I liked how their relationship developed despite the obstacles of Eleanor’s family. Most protagonists in books are either beautiful, pretty or plain and they always get the guy. Eleanor is overweight, redhead and plain, but I like this characteristic about her because it’s different. Park sounds like he looks quite interesting because he’s got the half Asian and half Irish features about him. Eleanor says how cute he looks, awe! I like how these two unlikely people came together and eventually fell in love.
So there are some really nice elements in this story. Loved the references of books like Catcher in the Rye, the music like the Smiths, Bowie and Joy Division. I liked how Eleanor made friends – DeNice and Beebi (strange names I know) and loved how Park stood up for Eleanor when the mean kids made fun of her on the bus. This story did kind of remind me of the Perks of Being a Wallflower, with the concept of growing up, making new friends, new relationships and of course the pressures of High School.
I had some issues with this book. Eleanor kept putting herself down thinking she’s not good enough for Park, but I understand that she’s stubborn and self-conscious. The ending was disappointing. It wasn’t a happy love story. Park was a likeable character but Eleanor just became frustrating by the end! The last scene when they were together was so sad. They had to be separated because of Eleanor’s abusive stepdad. Park’s parents was really understanding, as they allowed him to help Eleanor out by driving her to her Aunt and Uncle’s place where she can stay. What annoyed me was that Park wrote so many letters to Eleanor but she didn’t reply to any of them! Why didn’t she write back or call him?! She just kept them unopened and it just really annoyed me. By the end of the book, the author leaves the last sentence very open-ended with the postcard from Eleanor and that was the end!
I know in life, it’s not always a HEA and I appreciate that the author never wrote this in that way because most romance books on the shelf are like that with happy endings, but ahh I really wanted Eleanor and Park to somehow work things out, so that could see each other.
I gave this a 3 star rating. It just really didn’t hit that 4 or 5 star mark. It wasn’t memorable to me and I could easily forget it once I put it down. It wasn’t a book that stayed with me. I think Park said, “I love you” rather too soon and it felt like it hadn’t reach that stage yet, it just came out of nowhere. I mean, REALLY.
This has been compared to the Fault in Our Stars. I don’t like the Fault in Our Stars, but those who liked that book would probably enjoy Eleanor and Park. It’s not the best book I’ve read and I wouldn’t read it again, but overall, it was really, the sweetest and cutest story you could possibly read!
Side note: The cover for this book is absolutely adorable. I love the quirky illustration of Eleanor and Park sharing music with their headphones. Ah it just summaries this story perfectly. The author has such a cute and unusual name: Rainbow. I’ve never heard anyone called Rainbow before.