Eleanor and Park: Not Your Average Teenage Love Story


Anna Porter, Staff Writer

Omaha, Nebraska, 1986: In all simplicity, Eleanor and Park is the story of two teenagers learning about love. It alternates between the perspectives of Eleanor – a chubby 16-year-old girl who has crazy red hair, mismatched clothes, and who just moved back in town after being kicked out by her stepdad – and Park – who has lived in Omaha his entire life but doesn’t really fit in with his peers and is pretty insecure about his Korean identity. That is until he meets Eleanor. They bond over comic books and mixtapes which ultimately ends with Park falling in love with Eleanor and Eleanor trying to learn what love really is. 

The book revolves around some typical and some not so typical aspects of life as a teenager. It covers topics such as bullying, self-image, substance abuse, and domestic violence.  Books like Eleanor and Park are a great way to learn a different perspective on things such as having the privacy to take a shower, being able to hang out with friends, or feeling safe at home. 

Eleanor’s only escape from her life is Park and if anyone in her life finds out about him it’s over. But it’s hard to keep things a secret in a tiny house where you share a tiny bedroom with four other siblings. Eventually, word gets around and that information falls into the wrong hands. 

Eleanor’s experience gives a firsthand look at what the effects of bullying and abuse do to a person. In the book, she is so timid and reluctant to have any kind of relationship with anyone because of her home life. It shows that people should not make someone else’s life miserable just because they seem “weird” and that being kind can have an effect on someone’s life. 

I have read Eleanor and Park twice now and each time it has not taken me more than a couple of days at most. It is not too long but it is also one of those books that hook a reader and you keep saying “just one more chapter.” I loved this book because it was enjoyable but at the same time meaningful and there are a lot of lessons to be learned when reading it. 

Eleanor and Park is the perfect book about not fitting in with societal standards. No one is a perfect cookie cutter human and the book really brings that to light. It is like what Park says about Eleanor, “Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.”

If you are looking for a book to really make you feel something, I would highly recommend reading Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell.