Our Rating: A
Whether it’s the love triangle between vampires, werewolves, and humans, or the cliché plot where the boy comes running in to sweep the girl off her feet, most teenagers are hopeless romantics. Increasingly popular are the special love stories that fall into a category of their own, such as the recent hit The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell is a similarly captivating except that its contents are very different. In John Green’s words, “I have never seen anything quite like ‘Eleanor & Park.’”
Set in the 1980s, this novel chronicles the course of one school year between an unlikely pair of star-crossed lovers- Eleanor, a plump red head with a unique style, and Park, a half-Korean who likes comics and music. They meet on the school bus and with each trip their relationship slowly progresses from sharing comics to sharing hearts. Yet, this story is about much more than their love relationship, it’s about their relationship with life; each character has their struggles.
Eleanor’s home life is bad. She lives poorly with an alcoholic stepfather and several siblings. Park struggles with fitting in and the relationship with his father is often strained. Despite all of their hardships, Eleanor and Park continue to treasure their commitment to one another. Holding hands was made to be something sacred, “like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat.” While the plot is decades old, it can still relate to this century.
Rainbow Rowell also wrote Fangirl, another unique love story. Maybe these kinds of novels are not just unique romantic tales; maybe they are the new love stories that will be nestled into bookshelves for generations to come, just like Romeo and Juliet.