Eleanor & Park

Eleanor & Park tells an unexpectedly good love story


Annalissa Houser

Eleanor & Park is a novel that tells the story of two outcasts: Eleanor Douglas and Park Sheridan. Eleanor is full of freckles and curly red hair. She is new to the town of Omaha, Neb. She was sent away from her family a year ago because of her stepfather Ricky kicked her out and she has now returned to live with her family again. Eleanor’s family life is no better now; when Ricky isn’t out drinking, he’s home yelling about her every move.

Park has lived here his whole life with his parents and younger brother, Josh. Park has always been a bit of a loner. His younger brother has always been better than him at almost everything, and in turn he is their parents’ favorite. Eleanor and Park meet on a school bus on her first day, and when there’s nowhere else for Eleanor to sit, she sits down next to him.

Throughout the novel Eleanor and Park bond over Park’s comic books and eventually their shared taste in music. Slowly, Park becomes Eleanor’s escape from her home life and she looks forward to every morning and afternoon bus ride spent with him. The duo form a closer bond and start to spend more time together outside of school. Eleanor lies to her parents about where she is spending her time after school and on the weekends. Their bond grows closer through rough patches with Eleanor’s family.

Author Rainbow Rowell depicts a story of young love, one that almost everyone can relate to in some way. The two try to believe in a love that will last forever, much like a lot of us do. Eleanor and Park understand that chances are they won’t be together forever, but they also understand, more than most of us, that there’s no point in worrying about what is to come. Their first love is more powerful than most people’s last.

The novel expresses each character’s point of view wonderfully. The book shifts between each character in order for us to see each of their home lives and understand what’s going on in their head. Most people didn’t grow up with a stepfather that hated them, but Rowell explains Eleanor’s thoughts so well that it is easy for us to relate to her.

The ending features an unexpected twist for the reader. The novel ends quickly and at times can seem rushed, but it keeps your attention. It leaves you wanting to know more and to fill in the blanks for yourself. In my opinion, the ending was just what it needed to be for the book, and something that made you want a sequel.

Eleanor & Park is a novel every teen should read. Rowell tells a tale of love, but not the conventional love story. The book creates a scene of realistic struggle and reveals that a picture perfect ending isn’t always necessary in a good book.