Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This was a sweet but heartbreaking story about first love. Not exactly what I expected or hoped for, but still enjoyable.
Eleanor & Park takes place over the course of one school year in 1986. Our two main characters meet on the school bus and don't initially like each other. But over time, the two bond over comic books, music and their individual but similar quirkiness. I loved Eleanor and Park as characters and especially loved how their love story blossomed throughout the book. Both are dealing with difficult issues, more so in the case of Eleanor...but they take care of each other in a way that no one else in their lives ever bothered to. Park is open about his intense feelings for Eleanor, while she continually (and understandably) holds herself back. The author really did a great job of showing just how powerful...and scary...first love can be.
The back story involving Eleanor and her family is quite dark, and only made me want her to find some amount of happiness with Park in the end.
Unfortunately, this book does not offer a HEA, which was a disappointment for me. And just to be clear....I realize a HEA is not always possible. Yes, this is a tale of first love and typically first loves tend to fade as people grow up and evolve...but I truly felt the connection that Park & Eleanor had was the kind that could have overcome most challenges. The actual ending of the book hinted at a possible future for our two man characters, but the lack of closure really bothered me.
There were just so many loose ends. I kind of felt like this was book one of a series and that I was waiting for the other part of their story to be told. I realize that to some this book was perfect, and while i enjoyed the writing, and the relationship between Eleanor & Park, the lack of a satisfying conclusion to their story was the main reason why I can't give this book a higher rating.