“Eleanor and Park”: How I fell in love with a book


photo under Creative Commons license

The book cover of Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor and Park, by Rainbow Rowell, looks like another run-of-the-mill teenage love story, but with an authentic feel. The book is written from both Eleanor and Park’s points of view, giving you insight into what each of them feels as they progress through their relationship. You may just believe you’re falling in love yourself.

The book was published in Feb. 2013, but the story itself takes place in 1986 in Omaha, Nebraska. Nevermind the time period, or the fact that the characters use Sony Walkmans and have to schedule what time they’ll call each other on the telephone — their situation can happen anytime, anywhere. Eleanor and Park centers around half-Korean, half-white Park Sheridan and chubby ginger Eleanor Douglas, and chronicles the span of their doomed relationship.

I adored this story from the moment I read the first line. Eleanor and Park first meet on the school bus, which totally got me, on account of the fact that I take the school bus and the thought of love happening to me en route to my favorite place in the entire world seems positively enthralling. But then enters the fact that they are later star-crossed lovers, and we all know, thanks to their predecessors Romeo and Juliet, that that situation doesn’t end very well.

Rowell makes the characters feel lifelike, giving them depth and personality. The dialogue seems lifelike, and what could get more lifelike with a nice selection of profanities? Each of them talks a certain way, and feels a different way, and Rowell makes you experience it all. You will know how Park feels about Eleanor, and why Eleanor has difficulty vocalizing her emotions towards him. And you will never feel the same again.

The articulation of the book in general had me hooked, and I could not put it down. I wanted to know the undoing of their love affair and get the answers to all my burning questions.Truth be told, I stayed up from ten in the evening to three in the morning reading all the way through.

I cried. I cried halfway through, three-quarters of the way, at the end, and even days later. Eleanor and Park gives a realistic conveyance of what first love feels like. Two words can attest to that: It hurts.