Book: Eleanor and Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Review: It's 1986 in Nebraska. Park is half Korean in a predominately white town. He has a great family and while he isn't exactly popular, he gets along fine. On the way to school one day, the new girl Eleanor (big with bright red hair and seemingly unique fashion sense) sits next to him. They develop a friendship that evolves into something more, but they must deal with many outside pressures including Eleanor's family and school bullies.
This book was recommended to me by several people that assured me I would love it and that I would need a box of tissues at the end. While I enjoyed the book, I couldn't help feeling somewhat disappointed by it. The book started off fantastic-I absolutely loved how the friendship between Eleanor and Park developed. It felt real and very sweet. When their friendship took a quick turn to romance, it just didn't seem believable to me. I could buy them being best friends, but that's it. While I felt sorry for the circumstances Eleanor and her siblings were in, I never warmed to her as a main character. On the other hand, I loved Park and his family (his mom was especially awesome). I'll avoid spoilers but while the ending elicited no tears for me (I kept waiting to cry...but I just wasn't invested in them as a couple to generate any) I did like the book did not end tied up with a perfect red bow. Life isn't perfect, especially for Eleanor and I thought the ending was fitting. Also- I give the author kuddos for tackling a lot of issues including domestic abusive, poverty, alcoholism, bullying and racism.
If you are a high school student-you will probably love this.