Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Rainbow Rowell astounds readers with her novel Eleanor & Park.  The writing style pullseleanor and park the reader into a sense of familiarity.  Rowell opens the story up by letting the reader know tragedy strikes, almost as if letting the reader prepare for the winding road ahead without giving too much away.  She also creates a world where it is difficult to feel any malice, even towards the antagonists of the story.  In a subtle way, she shares little pieces of every character’s life in the story to submerge the reader into an entirely new world.  Rowell exposes the real world to the readers without scaring them, and in Eleanor & Park, she has created a wonderful book that helps understand differences.

Eleanor & Park concerns the lives of two outcast teenagers. Eleanor is an outcast in her own home, trying to find solace in the books and music she saved from her past.  She returns after a year of banishment by her stepfather, only to feel solace in the bus seat she shares with Park.  Park, a boy who grew up in the same neighborhood, never feels any excitement or passion for anything outside of his comics and Walkman.  Initially, he views Eleanor just as everyone else on the bus and school does – with disdain.  However, as time passes, their bus rides become intimate.  Eleanor opens up to him and he finds a fire in himself for her that he has never known before.  The story progresses through the heat of young love, abuse, and eventually, freedom for both Eleanor and Park in their own ways.

This book would be great for adolescents and adults alike.  I highly recommend Eleanor & Park because almost anyone who reads it can relate to some part of it in their own way.

(Amanda Sanson, Central Library)

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