Book Review – Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

It took me a pretty long time to get through this book and I’m gonna try to not spoil it for others but also prevent someone having to needlessly pause it like I did. I’d started it and I thought I saw something coming that I didn’t want to get to so I’d paused. Sometimes I pause when I think I’m not emotionally or mentally stable enough to handle something difficult. I also don’t go see horror movies or ride roller coasters during those stressful times. Self care is important. I finally felt well enough and got up the courage to continue and found that the stepfather does not rape the daughter so my pause was unnecessary.

Anyway, I finished it and I’m so glad I did.

The first thing I would like to point out is that this book features a plus sized female protagonist and an asian male protagonist and an interracial primary relationship. Some pretty awesome representation being used here for the fat character and representation in literature is so important. While well meaning, the depictions of Park and his family had some issues with accuracy that Korean Americans have pointed out, such as having Park, who has largely rejected his mother’s culture to assimilate with his peers, know martial arts to fight bullies but calling it both Taekwondo and Kung Fu. While there are obvious issues, I feel that having him be Korean American is generally a positive thing in this case.

Another important feature before the story even takes off is that you have a main character who is dealing with both abuse at home and bullying at school. The other main character is dealing with complicated gender roles in a culture that stereotypes his race as feminine.

And then there’s the sweet little romance between a boy who doesn’t fit the male love interest mold and a girl who doesn’t fit the female love interest mold. They’re both dealing with identity issues that underly their issues with family and peer relationships and they both have their own concerns and passions and they see each other floating in a sea of anxiety and all that eases a little when they hold each other’s hand.

This book is so beautiful and I got so attached to both these precious babies. It made me remember being young and falling in love so slowly that you don’t realize it’s happening till it’s happened.

3.5/5 Stars would recommend

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