Forbidden Love: A Review of Eleanor & Park

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

From St. Martin’s Griffin:

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love—and just how hard it pulled you under.

I love reading a book—or even a chapter of a book—that when you close the cover you think “Damn, that is good writing!” Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (St. Martin’s Griffin) is such a book.

Set in 1986 in the suburbs of Omaha, Eleanor & Park is a powerful story of forbidden love between Park, a half-white/half-Asian boy from a good family, and Eleanor, a full-figured girl struggling to survive life with her abusive step-father. Issues of bullying, race, gender and class distinctions come together to make this story good, but what takes it from good to unbelievably amazing is the sad horror of Eleanor’s home life and the world-changing first love between these two unlikely misfits.

Oh. My. God. I LOVED this book! Rowell’s writing is absolutely incredible—so powerful, yet so tender. Think John Green, but with swearing. And the characters are very memorable. My heart ached for Eleanor and Park. I really enjoyed that their relationship wasn’t love at first sight; it was a slow build of trust, with a lot of push and pull, that grew into something remarkable. Their love is so pure and innocent, and just wonderful to behold. It will make your heart melt into a swooning puddle.

Then on the other hand there are the characters that are just so despicable they make you want to throw the book against the wall just so you can hurt them. Here I am talking about Eleanor’s stepfather, Richie. He is the lowest of the low and all I wanted to do was scoop up Eleanor and Park, and take them as far away from him as possible. I hate, hate, HATE him! I also really couldn’t stand Eleanor’s mother—I hated her for being so weak. I know that there are woman in the world who find themselves in these types of abusive relationships and can’t find a way out (it’s a horrible truth), but “watching” Eleanor’s mother subject her five children to a life of squalor and fear, making excuses for her husband’s behaviour… I just couldn’t muster up any love for this woman.

I could not put Eleanor & Park down. My only complaint is that there isn’t more of it. I actually turned the last page, expecting there to be one more chapter and when there wasn’t I was like “WHAT!?” I wanted—no, needed—more Eleanor & Park.

At once harsh and lovely, sweet and bitter, this book is beautifully moving. Eleanor & Park is an unforgettable read that I can’t recommend enough. This is contemporary YA at its best, with the volume turned way up.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ (5/5 hearts)

3 thoughts on “Forbidden Love: A Review of Eleanor & Park

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