Eleanor and Park (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2013) restored my faith in writing. It’s brutally honest, unpretentious. Savagely eviscerating. Exhilarating. Reading it made me lonely and mad and proud; in turns and all at once. Eleanor and Park is a beautiful book – beautiful because it’s true.
It’s a straightforward story: two misfit characters, poor white trash and weird Asian kid, fall in love, but Rainbow Rowell nails it all: plot, character, dialogue, scene. Her characters lay on the page in a spot of sunlight and bloom from spring into full summer in scene after scene after scene. Details strung together make mosaics of story and emotion. Rowell’s writing brings back all the agony of being an imperfect teen. (The bra strap held together with safety pins was the gem that really got me – what woman can’t relate to that?)
The Young Adult rating is just a rating – this book can and should be read by anyone over the age of 14. I wish there was a way to give Eleanor and Park to myself when I was young. As it is, a copy should be given and to every kid out there who is even a little different, and every kid who thinks they aren’t. Whether you are a teen reader, an adult with a teen, or just a citizen of planet Earth, give yourself the gift of reading this book. Eleanor and Park will put you right inside the heads and hearts of two teenagers who are not so different from yourself, and will change you forever.