Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell (2012, 2013)

Genre: Romance
Interest Level: 14-17
Eleanor & ParkIt’s 1986, and Eleanor moves back home just after the start of a new school year. You know the feeling – everyone knows each other, and they look at you everywhere you go. Making things worse, Eleanor’s family is really messed up – there’s no bathroom door, she has no toothbrush, and she shares her room with three brothers and a sister. Plus a cat she doesn’t like. At all. First day on the bus to school, she is rebuffed from every seat until finally Park lets her sit down next to him. But they don’t talk. He eventually realizes she is stealthily reading his comics, and the germ of a friendship takes root, and then develops into more. So much more. No matter how long it’s been since your first love, you’ll relive it all over again as Rowell (who also wrote Fangirl) leads you through the roller-coaster ride with Eleanor and Park. She absolutely nails the teen voice and emotions here – just reading about these will surely lead you to recall your own obsessive behaviours, the heat of a touch or a glance, the lift of your heart when your love caught your eye. The dialogue is honest and realistic, the main characters and many adult characters are surprisingly well developed for a young adult novel. The story is so centred on the two teens that their friendships with others fade into the background, again unusual, and perhaps a topic of discussion for book clubs. I did miss the zany pal. But the cultural references are fun to discover, though I’m pretty sure a lot of teens will be asking their parents what the heck Highway to Heaven was…
More discussion and reviews of this novel: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15745753


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