Sunday, February 23, 2014

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

What are the odds of two people finding each other in such a large world with so many others? It is a rhetorical question, but it is kind of a miracle when it happens.

In their own ways, Eleanor and Park are set apart from the crowd. Park is the son of a Korean mother and an ex-military father. Park is not the tough, athletic guy his dad would like him to be. He prefers rock music, wearing black shirts and reading comics.

Eleanor is the new girl in school. Her red hair and unique way of dressing (second hand mostly) make her stand out and an easy target at school. She has recently moved back in with her mom and her horrible new step father after being abandoned at a family friend's house for over a year. Eleanor is very careful at home because her step father could explode at her at any time.

Call it fate or whatever you wish but on the first day of school, Eleanor has no where to sit on the bus except next to Park. It is not love at first sight - in fact it is avoid any contact at all on first sight and for several days after. It is only a small connection at first that breaks the barrier between them and it grows from there.

There are more complications than I am willing to spell out here. I will say that Eleanor's home life make it difficult for her to trust anyone and causes her to hesitate to let anyone see her for who she really is. For his part, Park is crazy about Eleanor and only hopes she will eventually see in herself what he sees in her.

Rainbow Rowell has created a story of two young people who need someone and unexpectedly find each other. I was particularly happy with the later stages of the story even as I cringed at the potential danger that could be coming. The story is set in the 1980s. Having been a teen myself then, I liked the many references to the time.

For more info, check out the Evergreen Library catalog and the author's site.

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