Title: Eleanor and Park Author: Rainbow Rowell Published: February 26th 2013 by St. Martin's Press Format: Hardcover; Pgs 328 Genre: Young Adult
The torment just falls off the page and is as real a character as both Eleanor and Park. Because of that, I do not feel that I could do justice in reviewing this book. I am not sure that everyone will take away the same message from this book, but what it boiled down for me was that Eleanor did not belong. She did not belong with the new family her mother created, she did not belong in her school, she did not belong on the bus, she did not belong anywhere, yet she was determined to hold on to the one place she did belonged and that was with Park.
Even though they were both from the poorer section of town, to Eleanor’s eyes Park had it all. He came from a family. There was food on his table and grandparents next door. People cared about him and he belonged.
Park’s mother summed up the book for me when she said, “that when you come from a large family, there is never enough”. Though Eleanor did not ask for anything, there was never enough for her. She was determined to make Park enough, and Park in return knew that Eleanor was all that he ever wanted. That he would give Eleanor what she needed so that she would no longer feel afraid.
There is your usual teen high school drama, but Eleanor was determined to rise above it, she could handle anything as long as one person was on her side.
Park was forced to grow up quicker then he should, but he was going to be there even if he had to convince his parents not go give up on Eleanor.
Turns out that some of the awfulness that Eleanor was facing was closer to home than either of them thought. Eleanor needed to make a break from that life and if it meant leaving Park behind, then that is what had to be done.
This book is goofy and heartbreaking. It felt a bit voyeuristic to watch the turmoil that was going on but at the same time, I found myself trying to poke at Eleanor’s and Park’s mothers trying to push them to catch a clue as to what was going on.
At the end, my heart was breaking and I kept hoping for that single light at the end of the long tunnel that was Eleanor’s life. I wanted for that one person to reach out to her and say, “It gets better, you belong”. In a twist, it turned out the scared and damaged Eleanor reached back to the one person that was there for her. The one person that would always make her feel as if she belonged.