My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I was a little hesitant to read Eleanor & Park because I wasn’t a huge fan of Fangirl. But I wanted another audio book to read, and this was available as an audio book from my local library and listened to it while working.
Set in Omaha, Nebraska in 1986, Park Sheridan and Eleanor Douglas meet on the school bus when Eleanor boards the bus to school. It’s her first day of school after she moves in with her mother, siblings, and abusive step-father. Park is half-white, half-Korean while Eleanor is Danish and Scottish and both are misfits. As the two bond over comic books and music on the way to school, a budding relationship develops between them. Eleanor & Park also deals with issues of race and child abuse.
Aah, the memories! Walkmans and mix tapes and AA batteries. I still have some cassette tapes in my closet. Teenage love in books can be so innocent and so pure…so romantic. I believe Rainbow Rowell does an excellent job of teen love, with Eleanor’s insecurities, with Park’s growing love. I enjoyed the love story between Eleanor and Park. It made me smile.
The abusive stepfather made me cringe. The abuse isn’t overwhelming in the story, but the reader always knows it’s there. It periodically explodes reminding the reader of explosiveness of stepfather. Eleanor musters up the nerve to tell her mother a lie that Eleanor has a girlfriend that she spends time with after school, giving Eleanor a way to escape the abuse for a little while everyday and spend time with Park and his family.
Park’s family is great. Their interaction is believable. I love that ultimately Park was able to talk to his father and enlist his father’s help for Eleanor.
I was torn about the ending, which seems to be a topic of discussion in reviews. I was happy for Eleanor on one hand, but heartbroken as well. Yeah, I’ll admit to being a little teary remembering my own first heartbreak. It was very similar to Park’s experience.
As to the three words on the postcard, I like to believe it says, “I’ll call you.”
I really enjoyed Eleanor & Park and would recommend adding it to your TBR list. Read it!
A little side note about audio books:
I think listening to the audio book of Eleanor & Park really added to my enjoyment. The narrators did a really good job of the different voices, especially with Park’s mother, Min-Dae Korean accent.
It took me a while to get into reading audio books. I used to believe that it was like listening to the radio. But now that I’ve been listening to audio books for a couple of years, I realize that it can absolutely enhance my reading experience. James Patterson’s Alex Cross series uses music to ramp up the tension and even sound effects in some of the action scenes. I only read James Patterson Alex Cross series and Women’s Murder Club series on audio book. I listen to audio books when I’m running errands, working, or just laying around the house. I definitely recommend audio books to everyone. Try one, you might surprise yourself.