Bono met his wife in high school, Park says.
So did Jerry Lee Lewis, Eleanor answers.
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be, she says, we’re 16.
What about Romeo and Juliet?
Shallow, confused, then dead.
I love you, Park says.
Wherefore art thou, Eleanor answers.
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be.
Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love—and just how hard it pulled you under.
I like the simplicity of this cover, especially the way the headphone wire forms the ampersand in the title. The color scheme is nice and I like the font. I kinda wish it showed more of the characters’ personalities though.
Whoa, so…Eleanor & Park. I’m at a loss for what to say about this book. It’s the kind of book that you know is a good book but you feel like it’s wrong to say you liked it – kind of like Speak, you know? I mean, it’s a good book, but it’s not a light and happy book. It’s a book you read almost cautiously, like you’re waiting for the other shoe to drop. I’m making it sound like a horror movie here, but it’s not like horrible things happen constantly. Eleanor lives in fear of something horrible happening – it’s always there on the horizon. Eleanor is fiercely individual but she’s learned to be careful about letting anyone into her life, to open up to anyone. Park is just trying to fit in while still being himself, and Eleanor threatens his status quo.
- Eleanor – I like that Eleanor thinks for herself. She thinks that Romeo and Juliet are idiots, she thinks the X-Men are sexist, and she wears men’s ties as accessories. I like Eleanor because she’s in a horrible situation but she doesn’t make nice about it. She’s mean and moody and doesn’t act like everything’s just peachy. Eleanor’s not all girly and emotional either – she has trouble expressing her emotions.
- Park – Park is the mushy one in the relationship. Eleanor’s mean to him, but he keeps trying to be nice to her and get her to open up to him. Park can’t exactly relate to Eleanor’s family issues, but he does what he can to help her and cheer her up. He’s just sweet.
- Park’s parents – I like Park’s parents a lot. Park’s dad is the kind of man that Eleanor’s never had in her life. He’s responsible, respectable, and devoted to his family. Even when he’s fighting with him, Park never doubts that his dad loves him. Park’s mom is a bit tough on Eleanor at first. She’s freaked out when Eleanor isn’t what she’s expecting. She calls her a weird girl for crying in Park’s house, but then when Park’s mom sees that Eleanor is part of a large family she starts to treat her more kindly. When she’s nice to Eleanor, Park’s mom is more of a mother figure than Eleanor’s own mom is.
- Richie + Eleanor’s mom – Eleanor’s stepdad, Richie, is foul and disgusting. I wanted to kill him and I don’t even feel bad about it. But as awful as he is, I feel like Eleanor’s mom is worse in a way. She spends all her time working to placate and cater to Richie, while she and the kids suffer from his wretched, drunken temper. Her children literally tremble and cry on the floor together while Richie yells at her in the dead of night, and every day she chooses to stay with this abusive jerk. I don’t know much at all about abusive relationships, but Eleanor’s mom is always choosing Richie over her kids. Eleanor even says it’s like her mom is “keeping them all alive behind his back.”
- alternating voices – While I did enjoy reading from both Eleanor’s and Park’s perspective, I found them a bit hard to keep straight. I love how the length of each section varies. It’s not just alternating chapters, but Eleanor and Park both sound exactly the same. Sometimes I had to flip back a page or 2 to check whose perspective I was reading. I think the way it’s written (3rd person) contributes to this confusion. Instead of reading a line like ‘I liked how she dressed’ and knowing it’s Park, we have ‘He liked how she dressed’ and we don’t know if Park or Eleanor is thinking this.
- She looked ridiculous. And she was looking at his comics. Park felt like he should say something to her. He always felt like he should say something to her, even if it was just hello or excuse me. But he’d gone too long without saying anything since the first time he cursed at her, and now it was all just irrevocably weird. For an hour a day. Thirty minutes on the way to school, thirty minutes back. Park didn’t say anything. He just held his comics open wider and turned the pages more slowly. – Park (pg. 34)
- “Eleanor,” he said, just because he liked saying it, “why do you like me?” “I don’t like you.” He waited. And waited… Then he started to laugh. “You’re kind of mean,” he said. “Don’t laugh. It just encourages me.” – Park + Eleanor (pg. 110)