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Eleanor & Park Hardcover – February 26, 2013
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An Amazon Best Book of the Month, March 2013: While Eleanor & Park is technically classified as YA lit and has a cutesy cover, don’t let the stigma of “books for teens” fool or deter you. It is written about teens, sure, but the themes are so universal that anyone who survived high school will relate to the lives of the two protagonists. Eleanor is the new girl in town and her wild red hair and patchwork outfits are not helping her blend in. She ends up sitting next to Park on the bus, whose tendencies towards comic books don’t jibe with the rest of his family’s love of sports. They sit in awkward silence every day until Park notices that Eleanor is reading his comics over his shoulder; he begins to slide them closer to her side of the seat and thus begins their love story. Their relationship grows gradually--making each other mixed tapes (it is 1986 after all) and discussing X-Men characters--until they both find themselves looking forward to the bus ride more than any other part of the day. Things aren’t easy: Eleanor is bullied at school and then goes home to a threatening family situation; Park’s parents do not approve of Eleanor’s awkward ways. Ultimately, though, this is a book about two people who just really, really like each other and who believe that they can overcome any obstacle standing in the way of their happiness. It’s a gem of a book. --Caley Anderson
*Starred Review* Right from the start of this tender debut, readers can almost hear the clock winding down on Eleanor and Park. After a less than auspicious start, the pair quietly builds a relationship while riding the bus to school every day, wordlessly sharing comics and eventually music on the commute. Their worlds couldn’t be more different. Park’s family is idyllic: his Vietnam vet father and Korean immigrant mother are genuinely loving. Meanwhile, Eleanor and her younger siblings live in poverty under the constant threat of Richie, their abusive and controlling stepfather, while their mother inexplicably caters to his whims. The couple’s personal battles are also dark mirror images. Park struggles with the realities of falling for the school outcast; in one of the more subtle explorations of race and the other in recent YA fiction, he clashes with his father over the definition of manhood. Eleanor’s fight is much more external, learning to trust her feelings about Park and navigating the sexual threat in Richie’s watchful gaze. In rapidly alternating narrative voices, Eleanor and Park try to express their all-consuming love. You make me feel like a cannibal, Eleanor says. The pure, fear-laced, yet steadily maturing relationship they develop is urgent, moving, and, of course, heartbreaking, too. Grades 9-12. --Courtney Jones
Top customer reviews
Eleanor & Park is an absolutely breathtaking story that highlights one extreme to another. The statement of opposites attracting is evident in our two main characters as they strike up an unlikely relationship. I cannot begin to describe how much I fell in love with Eleanor and Park and their story. It’s told, often in one sentence snippets, with such a powerful passion that its hard to put down.
It is not a “dirty” book, however not clean either. The cursing is incredibly high, with pretty much every word you can think of (multiple times), and the sexual references/comments are also very present. There are no “sex scenes”, though a couple that come very close with many details of feelings and observations that are the result of the many passionate and detailed kisses. Abuse, drinking, smoking, drugs, and some suicidal thoughts are also mentioned but on a much lesser scale than the previously mentioned.
Eleanor & Park have a story that will undoubtedly be remembered, and it would have received a full five stars from me based on that alone, however I am deducting one star because of the negative content. Therefore the final rating is 4 out of 5 stars. I recommend it for readers 16+.
The book Eleanor and Park takes place in August of 1986, in Omaha Nebraska. The story is about 2 Teenagers who fall in love in high school. Park is a half Korean half White 16 year old boy and Eleanor is a rather large 16 year old girl with red hair. They first meet on the school bus during 10th grade. Park is someone that his classmates considered a loner. He tries not to make a target of himself by offering Eleanor to sit by him. Despite the challenge over the coming weeks they share a seat on the bus and begin a friendship. At the time Eleanor’s home situation is very difficult to deal with. She becomes dependent on the friendship with Park as an outlet of happiness. Her relationship with her step-father is thin on ice as prior to meeting Park she was kicked out of their house during an argument, and it took her mother a year to let her come home. Parks home life is drastically different. Parks father is harder on him than his brother. His father wishes that Park becomes a different kind of teenage boy. There's a lot more of love shown in Park’s household than Eleanor’s. Eleanor is constantly harassed at school by not only the students but the faculty plays a role as well. Park is her protector from the bullies she deals with on a daily basis. He even got into a fight with one his friends because he was giving Eleanor a hard time. Park is a lonely troubled boy and Eleanor has her issues. The relationship between them grows everyday they spend. They become inseparable and really love each others presence. Park got a smooch before winter break and that really set the tone that they really are falling for each other. So if you look at the messages this book tries to convey, love is love. It doesn't matter how hard your life is or your appearance to others, their is always someone who will love you for who you are. Keep looking and eventually you'll find your big red head or your skinny Asian.