by Rainbow Rowell

Reviewer Rating:


It's August of 1986, and 15-year-old Eleanor is the new kid at school.  She spent last year living with her mom's friends after being kicked out of her house by her abusive stepdad, but now she's back with her mom, stepdad, and four younger brothers and sisters.  Eleanor's family is poor, she's got a full figure and a crazy mane of red hair, and she dresses like a "sad hobo clown."  On her first day on the school bus, Park takes pity on her and lets her share his seat.  Park is a misfit in his own right: the only Asian kid at their Omaha school, he's into punk rock, dresses all in black, and has nothing in common with his sports-obsessed dad and brother.  Eleanor and Park slowly get to know each other during their bus rides and shared English class and discover a mutual love of The Smiths and X-Men comics and, eventually, one another.

Eleanor & Park is a YA novel that explores first love, navigating one's teens years when you're an outsider, bullying, living in an abusive household, and growing up poor.  As much as I hate the word, I found it to be nearly unputdownable and really appreciated the fact that author Rainbow Rowell created teens who looked, behaved, and talked like the teens that I remember from high school: the bullies aren't completely heartless people, our protagonists aren't the most beautiful kids in town, and riding the bus is, indeed, a nightmare.  Highly recommended for teens and adults who enjoy YA lit.


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