April 23, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Pick of the Day: Eleanor & Park

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ROWELL, Rainbow. Eleanor & Park. 328p. St. Martin’s Griffin. Mar. 2013. Tr $18.99. ISBN 978-1-250-01257-9; ebook $9.99. ISBN 978-1-250-03121-1.
Gr 9 Up
–In this novel set in the 1980s, teenagers Eleanor and Park are outsiders; Eleanor, because she’s new to the neighborhood, and Park, because he’s half Asian. Although initially wary of each other, they quickly bond over their love of comics and 1980s alternative music. Eleanor’s home life is difficult; her stepfather physically abuses her mother and emotionally abuses Eleanor and her siblings. At school, she is the victim of bullying, which escalates into defacement of her textbooks, her clothes, and crude displays on her locker. Although Park’s mother, a Korean immigrant, is initially resistant to the strange girl due to her odd fashion choices, his father invites Eleanor to seek temporary refuge with them from her unstable home life. When Eleanor’s stepfather’s behavior grows even more menacing, Park assists in her escape, even though it means that they might not see each other again. The friendship between the teens is movingly believable, but the love relationship seems a bit rushed and underdeveloped. The revelation about the person behind the defacement of Eleanor’s textbooks is stunning. Although the narrative points of view alternate between Eleanor and Park, the transitions are smooth. Crude language is realistic. Purchase for readers who are drawn to quirky love stories or 1980s pop culture.–Jennifer Schultz, Fauquier County Public Library, Warrenton, VA