What made me want to read Eleanor & Park in the first place was that I’d read a quote on tumblr from the book, and I wanted to know who said it. What I mean is, I wanted to know the characters: Eleanor and Park, two sixteen-year-olds who both have troubled lives yet are able to see something beautiful within each other that no one else seems to notice.
Rainbow Rowell’s word choice gives insight to how our two protagonists think and feel throughout the novel. Which is important because the whole book is emotion. It’s important to remember what makes Eleanor uncomfortable so that when Park does something to make her feel accepted, the reader can understand the significance. It’s such a personal story that at times I felt like I was reading a shared diary between two people that contains all their secrets and all of the things that make them not everyone else.
My overall opinion is that this story is heartbreaking (sometimes), awkward, sad (sometimes), irritating, slow, and sweet (like strawberries). However, while it is all these things, Eleanor & Park is strangely simple. There’s nothing grand about two teenagers with messed up and weird lives; there’s nothing special about it. What makes it so, is the dreamlike aspect of their love in a regularly unhappy world. Rowell has made a beautifully normal novel about teenagers that doesn’t make me cringe. She’s a hero. She’s real and elegantly writes about young love and how it works out and can be really great but isn’t perfect.