Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell — Review
What I liked: I liked both Eleanor and Park. The author did a great job adding layers and depth to the characters. I wasn’t sure this was going to happen when I was about 50 pages into the book, but it did. The author did a nice job with Park and Eleanor’s parents’ as well. So often, parents come across as flat or stereotypical, but not in this book. And that made Eleanor’s home life ring true. Her troubles felt maybe a little too real as I read and I worried for Eleanor throughout the novel. I also liked the setting, having grown up in the 80s. References to U2, Elvis Costello, big hair and eyeliner made me a little nostalgic.
What I wanted more of: The ending felt rushed. I couldn’t understand how the relatives who help Eleanor hadn’t played a larger role in the story. They seem to suddenly appear. I also wondered what happened to Eleanor’s family and why the same relatives seem oblivious to any changes after Eleanor’s appearance. While I thought all the main characters were realistic, I disliked how the school teachers and administrators were portrayed. They were at best ineffective, and sometimes portrayed as downright mean.
Overall, a quick and entertaining read with moments of surprising emotion; an interesting view of love while growing up in dysfunction.