• Jenn Kalchik

Book Review: Eleanor and Park

Updated: Nov 24, 2020

I love the concept of Banned Book Week. Usually held during the last week of September, Banned Book Week celebrates the freedom of reading books. Sometimes books are censored based on their content in libraries and schools. One of these books is Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, which was censored primarily due to offensive language. Eleanor and Park is a wonderful book about first love that will warm your heart.

I discovered Rainbow Rowell when I read her book "Fangirl." Rowell really knows how to write for a younger audience and make it relatable. It was such a great book that I wanted to read her other novels. I did try to read "Carry On", which is based on the fictional book series that is a plot point in Fangirl, but I wasn't able to finish. I want to try reading it again, and when I do I think I'll try to read the book rather than listening to the audiobook. Anyway, back to Eleanor and Park.

Eleanor and Park takes place in Omaha, Nebraska in1986 during the school year. It switches perspective between Eleanor and Park, but it's still broken out into chapters. Eleanor is a new student at Park's school. They meet on the bus when she has to sit next to him on the first day of school and continues to sit with him afterward. Park is half-Korean and likes comics and music. Eleanor recently moved back to her mother's house with her siblings and "mother's husband", whom she refuses to call "Dad". The book progresses as the budding couple gets to know one another.

It was gut-wrenching to read about Eleanor's home life. Her step-father is abusive and controlling; he even goes as far as to limit what rooms in the house have doors. Park is not without his own family problems. His mother does not like Eleanor when she first meets her, and his father wishes his son was more like him. Both of them are not perfect by any means, but they complement each other very well and Rowell writes them to be realistic as a high school couple.

For my 2020 Reading Challenges, I used "Eleanor and Park" for the following prompts and challenges:

The young couple does not end up together, and that's okay. That sometimes happens with high school romances. I still loved this story and how the characters were fleshed out. If you're looking for a good misfit love story that will tear at your heartstrings, I recommend Eleanor and Park.

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