Set in 1986, Eleanor and Park is more than just a teen love story. It is a beautiful lesson about caring for one another beyond school. Eleanor lives a tough life, she gives clues about her home life and refers to the year prior when she actually had to live in another house. She alludes to why this happened and who made it happen, but it is made clear by the end the exact circumstances. There are some real life lessons to learn by reading this book. Without spoiling the story, I wish more people would pay attention to their friends and try to always watch out for them. Eleanor is new to school and she dresses in the alternative style of the 80s and also due to her poverty, wears eclectic clothes like men’s shirts and neckties (VERY FASHIONABLE – I also used this technique in the 80s because I, too, did not have the money to wear the brand names.) In the meantime, she meets Park, a Walkman-wearing, comic book reading boy on her bus who finally saves her from the bullies in the back of the bus on the first day. Eventually, they start reading the comic books together and then they realize that they can’t stand to be apart. No one really knows what is going on in Eleanor’s life at home or how important her relationship with Park becomes in helping her to survive every day. Let’s just say the setting of the story also took me back to my own middle and high school history – which, in itself, was incredibly sentimental and AWESOME.
I don’t want to ruin the whole story. YOU REALLY MUST READ IT. It is one of the best YA novels I have ever read, realistic, sweet, sarcastic, edgy and smart. I love it SO much. I could not put it down – I read it in less than a day. If I recommend one book to my students to read this year, THIS WILL BE THE ONE.
I did a Goodreads review of Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. It is the bomb.