Note: This review may contain spoilers!
I recently read over Eleanor and Park a week ago or so actually. It came out so long ago and I felt like I just had to read it because I loved her other books (especially with literally everyone loving this book). After reading it though, I actually didn’t find it that good at all, despite me desperately wanting to like it. I do feel like it could be a good book to the right person, but it just wasn’t what I was looking for.
What I Didn’t Like
“Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.”
One of the reasons why I didn’t like this was the entire relationship between Eleanor and Park. I felt like it was so rushed and it just didn’t make sense. They fall in love with each other so quickly, and it just confused me. They went from being casual bus-maybe-friends to something else entirely. In fact, there’s a deep phone call just a bit into the story that makes it seem like they’ve been in a relationship for years. I really wanted a more complex relationship between the two, and I wanted more than what was there. It just didn’t seem real.
Also, I just didn’t connect with the characters. I feel like they were rather one-sided and didn’t have much to them. Eleanor just kept getting bullied day after day and didn’t connect with anyone and it came to the point where it just didn’t do much anymore. There were so many random instances of her being bullied that I feel like didn’t do much other than to say that she got bullied. It didn’t develop her character and if it did anything, it developed her two gym friends that had seemingly no relevance other than to give her random guidance. The ending was especially confusing given this where Tina suddenly befriended her after knowing about her situation. I get that it might be something that she can relate to, but her entire perspective on Eleanor changed, which seemed too quick and unrealistic. Additionally, by adding this new friendship, I felt like it really didn’t do anything to the story and might have been there to conclude their character arcs (which strangely didn’t seem very necessary). Other than Eleanor and Tina, I feel like even Park didn’t have much to him other than the fact that he was a love interest for Eleanor.
The ending also disappointed me. I feel like it was building up to something that was not the ending. Her moving away and the postcard she sends Park is so rushed and dissatisfying. I wanted something to conclude their relationship more than what was there. The ending was so abrupt and just interrupted the flow of the story. The build up from the entire book just ended and the random facts about Park (like how he drives in a new car and went to prom with someone else) were just strange. I get that it was meant to share how he’s trying to fill in the gap that Eleanor left behind but it just didn’t work for me.
What I actually did like and found interesting:
“Holding Eleanor’s hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like holding something complete, and completely alive.”
While I didn’t like a decent chunk of the book, I found the changing perspectives really interesting. I always love when perspectives switch up between chapters and I find it interesting to get into the heads of each of the characters. I think that this format gave the reader more insight that was really needed to understand where each person was coming from. Especially because this book was so relationship-driven, it definitely added a bit to my enjoyment (though I might be kind of biased towards switching-perspectives books).
While I didn’t like the book too much for its unrealistic plot, I do think that it was a cute falling-in-love story. I personally didn’t see much to it, but I can definitely see how it connected with so many people.
Eleanor and Park wasn’t my favorite read, but I would recommend it to people who want a lighthearted, easy romance/contemporary read. There were so many people who liked this book, and you can check out some of the more positive or negative reviews here: