If you're a reader, you've probably heard about Eleanor & Park. Rainbow Rowell's sweet love story isn't the first of its kind, but is still worth a read.
The year is 1986. High school junior Eleanor has just moved back in with her mother after her stepfather kicked her out for a year. She transfers to a new school, where she is forced to sit beside classmate Park on the bus.
At first, Eleanor and Park don't seem to care much about each other. But when Eleanor begins reading Park's comics over his shoulder, he starts to warm up to her. Because nothing says "I like you" like reading over someone's shoulder. The novel follows The couple through the rest of their junior year.
Eleanor & Park is hardly new. Love stories are as old as humanity itself, but what makes it stand out is it's unique sense of character-and character dynamics. Eleanor is one of the most interesting characters in recent YA fiction. She has bright red curly hair, dresses in men's clothes, and ties bandanas around her wrists. And, of course, reads comics over people's shoulders. The relationship between Eleanor and Park is believably awkward, progressing from the two not speaking on their shared bus seat each day to being crazy about each other.
One thing that seemed out of place was the time period. Perhaps the book is set in the 1980's to show that the love story is timeless and universal. But other than the cool musical references, this doesn't seem to have much other purpose. It could have easily been set in the present day.
But overall, if you like a believable and sweet love story, Eleanor & Park is a great choice. What it lacks in newness it makes up for in character dynamics.
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