Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I adored this book. I picked it up at the library based on just the title, having heard it recommended as a fantastic read by someone on Reddit. I'm glad I didn't read any reviews or the synopsis before getting it, as it was a bit like unwrapping a present.
Eleanor is a misfit from a poor, dysfunctional family. Her stepfather is deplorable, and her mother is broken and weak. Park is the token Asian kid in this neighborhood of Omaha (half-Korean), and straddles between his popular friends and being himself. Thrown together on the bus, an odd friendship evolves into romance. Rowell did a great job of capturing first love and the awkwardness of high school / finding your place in the world. The dichotomy of Park's family (they were pretty fantastic, lucky boy) and Eleanor's awful home life (not only poor, but abusive and scary) was perfectly drawn for me. My heart ached for Eleanor, and for Park as he was introduced to a world that he never imagined from the safety of his home.
The ending wasn't what I expected, but still satisfying. To be honest, I'm a little emotionally wrecked by the last few chapters, and need a moment to collect myself. Definitely recommended--4 stars.
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