I have to admit that I picked up Eleanor and Park because of the hype. It was being talked about so much, more than most other books in recent years. I gave in, bought a copy and devoured it. I am not sure if I am one to be swayed by others opinions (I like to think I am not) but like pretty much everyone else, I loved it. Eleanor and Park was such a unique and very real story about young love, which was quite refreshing and just the kind of book to get me out of the slump I was in.
Eleanor is far from what we're used to in YA, and that makes her stand out much more. She's a poor kid, living with a creepy stepdad and a mom that doesn't seem to be able to get it together. She's overweight, buys her clothes from Goodwill, and hates gym class. Park is "the Asian kid" who can be considered a bit popular, but still different because of his unique personality. They start off a strangers, not particularly happy about having to sit next to each other on the bus, but eventually the strangeness fades. They slowly become friends over reading comic books together, enjoying songs, and this turns into a beautiful first love.
Like I'm sure you've read in every review you've come across of Eleanor and Park, the best part was the romance. Not only was it sweet and real, it very much made me remember how it feels like to be so young, so innocent, and so in love. Each moment they spent together was so damn special, and it brought back many memories of when I was a teen and squealing about every little moment, as well as the rush, the feeling of so many emotions. That's what this book gave to me.
I could go on forever about this book, but I won't. I can say that I love the characters (even the ones I hated) and I truly enjoyed Rowell's writing. I also loved that it was set in the mid 80's because it reminded me of my childhood (although with some differences since I was a 90's kid.) I am definitely looking forward to reading more of Rowell's work, and wholeheartedly recommend Eleanor and Park to everyone.