Published by St. Martin's Griffin on February 26th 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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"Bono met his wife in high school," Park says.
"So did Jerry Lee Lewis," Eleanor answers.
"I’m not kidding," he says.
"You should be," she says, "we’re sixteen."
"What about Romeo and Juliet?"
"Shallow, confused, then dead."
''I love you," Park says.
"Wherefore art thou," Eleanor answers.
"I’m not kidding," he says.
"You should be."
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.
While I most definitely do have a sweet tooth for all things romantic and gushy when it comes to YA, when I start reading a contemporary romance I always go in with two reservations: One, it might at times feel like a cycle of cliches and two, the plot will probably develop unnaturally.
But Eleanor & Park was a very different kind of contemporary romance than I am used to reading. Not only was it unique, the course of events felt natural and real.
The dual perspective between the two main characters strengthened each scene. Both Eleanor and Park were so distinct and well imagined, it definitely felt like they were real teenagers who I could bump into on the street. I loved how they were both quirky in completely different ways that complemented one another so well.
There were moments when I was frustrated with Eleanor because of how often she would push away or be rude for seemingly no reason, but everything she did felt true to her character, and reasonable considering her circumstances.
I loved how the book focused a lot on their families, not just the obvious aspect of Eleanor’s stepdad Richie but Park’s relationship with his dad and the comparisons he made to himself and his brother.
In a world of relationships beginning with two kids bumping into each other after turning a corner and falling tout suite, I loved the way Eleanor and Park’s relationship began with the two of them being forced to sit together on the bus ride to school. The transition between contempt to apathy to intrigue to full on love was adorable.
While I would consider this partly a quick and fun read, it definitely carries a weight to it. Eleanor not only deals with a lot of bullying but with some really frightening issues at home. The ending was strange but also perfect, and I was very happy with it. It did wrap up such a heavy issue a bit quickly, but I thought it fit with the pacing and left it open in a way that left a lot of room to breathe.
If you are not as in to contemporary romance as I am, I would be hesitant to recommend this to you, because the focus was, as one might guess, on Park and Eleanor’s relationship, which did lead to a lot of saccharine sweet-type moments. If, however, you are game, I have a feeling you’re going to like this one!