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Book Review: Eleanor & Park

By Samantha Johnson, Clarion Staff

“Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.”

When you hear the phrase “star-crossed lovers”, who do you think of? Hazel and Augustus from The Fault In Our Stars? Bella Swan and Edward Cullen from the Twilight series? Or the famous couple from the classic play Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare? Pretty much any teenaged romance novel or television show has two people who are meant to be together, but the universe does not let it happen. This was the case in Rainbow Rowell’s young adult novel Eleanor & Park.

Set in Omaha, Nebraska of 1986, two teenagers meet on a school bus and spark an unexpected romance. The story follows the point of view of Eleanor, a shy redhead and target for bullies, and Park, an introvert who loves comic books. Throughout the novel, the two lovebirds face many conflicts in their relationship and personal life. Growing up with an abusive and drunk step-father, Eleanor barely had friends, let alone a boyfriend. She was quiet and kept to herself, until Park came along. Park grew up in a two-parent home, but felt neglected by his dad because “he wasn’t the son his dad wanted him to be.”

This novel made my heart flutter and ache all at the same time. The suspense of the couple’s relationship definitely kept me reading. I felt every emotion that Eleanor and Park felt. Rowell did an excellent job on making the reader feel different emotions, such as anger, sadness, and happiness. The rating that I would give this tear-jerker is a five out of five stars. This book taught me to always love somebody, even if it’s not a walk in the park 24/7.

Since the release of Rowell’s novel in 2013, it certainly seems to be the time that a team of writers, directors, producers, and the author herself begin collaborating on a film adaption.

Eleanor & Park was an amazing read. It is a story that many bookworm romantics would enjoy. Rowell’s Eleanor & Park will not be a waste of your time. Just go for it.

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