When new girl Eleanor sits next to Park on the school bus for the first time, they don’t think that they’ll ever become friends, let alone even speak to one another. Through mix tapes and comic books, the pair begin to get to know each other and forget how different they are; Eleanor, who wears mis-matched clothes and struggles to get along with her step-father and Park, who does everything he can to sink into the background. Slowly, as they get to know each other they forget how different they are and experience what it is like to fall in love for the first time.
The thing that makes this book so unique is that Eleanor and Park are not only really developed characters but their romance is not ‘too perfect’ – their story seems more realistic than most of the YA romances I’ve read. It is similar to Rowell’s Fangirl – they both depict characters who are very different, yet bond over their passions and interests that they have in common. Eleanor’s struggles with bullying and family issues throughout the book show her resilience, and the way she deals with these makes her determined. I really rooted for Eleanor as I really wanted things to turn out well for her. Park, on the other hand, showed that it is important to make your own decisions and not feel pressurised by friends or family – an important message for young people.
Overall, this book showed how it’s possible to get through the harder elements of growing up, and it is a must-read if you enjoyed Rowell’s Fangirl. Next week I’m planning a post based around feminism, to stay tuned for that!