Its 1986, and Eleanor is the new girl at school. She has bright red hair, and is a bit heavier than normal. She dresses differently, and just doesn’t fit it with the other kids in school. Then she meets Park when she sits next to him on the dreaded school bus. It is on these rides to and from school that a friendship, and more begins to blossom. The two come from completely different families. Eleanor is from a broken home, and has an abusive step father, while Park lives in a loving and nurturing environment. Despite their differences they fight to help each other survive their teenage years.
I like this book, but I didn’t love it. I think this may have something to do with all of the hype and publicity surrounding the book. I thought that Rowell did a great job of expressing the foibles and awkwardness of adolescence. I also like that the narrative goes back and forth between the views of Park and Eleanor, and does a great job at distinguishing between the two minds. Park was a great character; he was strong, and brave, but not so much that he is unbelievable as a teenager. He was a great example of how nothing about teens is black and white; there is no mold to fit. I have mixed feelings about Eleanor, sometimes I love her, and sometimes she really annoys me. At times I thought she was courageous and daring, and almost superhuman, and other times she seems utterly pathetic. Ok I know that sounds mean and the more that I think about it, the more realistic she seems to me, especially keeping her home life in mind.
One of my favorite things about the book was that it was set in the 1980s, it was very nostalgic for me, and then it just made me feel old. However, Rowell added in lots of little aspects that made it have an authentic 80s feel. I loved and hated the ending. It just ended, and I wanted more. This is a good thing. Too many books these days have a ton of chances to end, but they go on and on and on. Also, I listened to this book, and have nothing to complain about there. The narrator did a good job of using distinguishing voices in the different viewpoints.