Eleanor & ParkEleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

YA Contemporary Fiction

Eleanor is just starting school again. She was kicked out of her house for a year for talking back to her stepfather. She wears whatever clothes she can find that sort of fit. Now she needs to find someone who will let her sit down on the bus.

Park has a seat to himself and doesn’t want to share it with the weird looking new girl but the bus driver is yelling so he tells her to sit there.  Great, now he’s going to be stuck with her.

They ignore each other for months until Park realizes that Eleanor is reading along in the comic books that he reads on the bus.  This is the start of a friendship that changes the world for both of them.

This book explores the relationship between characters that aren’t often heard.  Eleanor is the daughter of a woman in a series of abusive relationships that means that her many kids are neglected.  Eleanor is just trying to get by.  She bathes when her stepfather is gone because there is no door on the bathroom.  She tries to get up the nerve to ask her guidance counselor to get her a toothbrush.  She is being bullied at school for being different but no one knows why she is.

Park is a kid who is on the edges of the popular crowd so he can slip through pretty much unnoticed until he befriends the outcast Eleanor.  Now he has to deal with the fallout.

The author did a good job with capturing the complexities of high school relationships between friends, enemies, and family members.  Portions of this book will stay with you because they are heartbreaking and hopefully will make people take a moment to think before ostracizing others for their differences.