Eleanor is the new girl in town, and with her chaotic family life, her mismatched clothes and unruly red hair, she couldn't stick out more if she tried.
Park is the boy at the back of the bus. Black t-shirts, headphones, head in a book - he thinks he's made himself invisible. But not to Eleanor... never to Eleanor.
Slowly, steadily, through late-night conversations and an ever-growing stack of mix tapes, Eleanor and Park fall for each other. They fall in love the way you do the first time, when you're young, and you feel as if you have nothing and everything to lose.
Okay so I will start by saying that I didn't really like this book. I mean, I definitely enjoyed bits of it, parts of it I absolutely loved, but overall, it left me really unsatisfied.
So as some of you may have noticed, this is the first review that I've ever done that's included spoilers. This is because I absolutely hated the ending of this book and I really wanted to talk about it in this post, to explain why my perception of this book isn't great.
Okay, so as I said, there are a few things that I really enjoyed in this book and so I want to talk about them first.
So, as the blurb kind of gives away, this is a love story.
One thing I truly loved about it is that the love aspect is quite realistic when compared to other teen love stories. Eleanor and Park aren't really the typical people in a love story, Eleanor is described to be quite overweight, her entire wardrobe consisting of hand-me-down clothes and ratty, old secondhand clothes.
Park on the other hand is described many times as a non-attractive, in his eyes anyway, thin, Asian boy.
Their first meeting was also not the usual, cute, 'eyes meet across a crowded room' cliche and neither of them are particularly drawn to each other when they first meet on the bus.
This for me was a real breeze of fresh air from other romance books that I've read in the past, it's real, it's raw and I absolutely loved it.
Something else that I really loved within this book is how intelligent parts of it were.
There was so much subtlety throughout the entire story, things such as the irony of Eleanor's bus being number 666, and Eleanor's interpretation of Romeo and Juliet towards the middle of the book in English class, as well as the part at the beginning where her English teacher is talking about poetry. It was really beautiful to me to put this literary intelligence through the love story to focus on something else for a little bit.
This was good with all of the issues within the book, whilst as much as Eleanor and Park's romance was a large part of the book, as with real life, it wasn't the only issue explored. There are things that love is not enough to concur and I love that this is seen throughout.
Going back to what I was saying about intelligence, speaking of Eleanor and Park's relationship, I love the conversations that they have. Most of them being intelligent conversations, analysing music and comics and just talking about life in general.
It shows just how strong a connection the two of them did have and I loved that Rowell highlighted this throughout the book, it made their love story just that much better and again, more realistic.
Okay, as much as I loved all of that stuff within this novel, the ending ruined the entire book for me.
So for those of you who haven't read it, basically Eleanor's family problems become quite massive and she decides to leave town and go and stay with her uncle. Park drives her there to help her and then he comes back.
The thing that annoys me, is that there is all of this talk about how they will write to each other and call on the phone and stuff and Eleanor just sort of blows it all off. And the book ends with Park coming home and not hearing anything from Eleanor for a year, and in the very last paragraph he gets a postcard from her with three words. Three words which are never revealed...
I mean, okay I understand what the author was trying to do here, explain how easily things just end and sometimes you have to let someone go and all of that.
But, their relationship was emphasised so much throughout the book and the reader got to a point as they overcame all of their problems and Eleanor finally opened up to Park and told him about her family problems that the reader was really rooting for them.
How Park was the only person that really understood Eleanor and loved her.
To have it all end just because they lived in different states, personally, really annoyed me.
I'm not going to rant about it too much but I just think that not only was distance one of the least intense things that they had to deal with together, and the fact that it was just all over with no explanation, the two of them didn't even have a conversation about it was just a huge anticlimax.
Overall I give Eleanor and Park 1.5 stars out of 5.
"They agreed about everything important and argued about everything else"
- Narrator. Page 64.
"Park had the sort of face you painted because you didn't want history to forget it"
- Eleanor. Page 135
"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"
- Park. Page 169
"I just can't believe that life would give us to each other and then take it back."
"Life's a bastard"
- Park and Eleanor. Page 306
"I'm not ready for you to stop being my problem"
- Park. Page 309
Thanks for reading guys - let me know what you thought of the ending if you've read it or what you thought of my interpretation.
Read fast, die young!