I first noticed Rainbow Rowell's young adult novel, Eleanor and Park, in a New York Times teen bestsellers' list and bought it for my 14 year old daughter. She loved it and having a novel gap, I ate it up. We chatted about it afterwards and she came up with comments like, "enthralling, couldn't put it down, interesting. The love story was heartbreaking, not cliched, realistic, really made you think". And I agree.
Two people from the same side of the tracks couldn't be having a more opposite experience from one another. Park is Korean American from a loving, secure, upwardly mobile family. Eleanor has just been allowed back home after being kicked out by her alcoholic step-father a year ago. She has no proper clothes, support, money. She is overweight and has wild red hair. They meet on the school bus. They fall in love but things aren't easy for Eleanor and they get worse.
It is hard not to fall in love with these two as they fall in love with each other. They are misfits, particularly Eleanor and that is what makes Park's adoration of her so wonderful. This book is perfect for those teens who are being victimised and those who merely want a good love story. Perhaps those who live in families like Park's, can appreciate them just a little bit more, after seeing what Eleanor has to cope with.