What was I thinking? I picked up this book after seeing the cute cover and reading reviews that promised multiple 80's music references and sweet, young love. I wanted a light, fluffy, feel-good read. I was deceived.
I can't quite describe what to make of Eleanor & Park. It started out like your typical YA contemporary romance. Eleanor is the new kid in town. She looks and acts differently from everyone else, and she gets bullied because of it. Park is the invisible kid who's mainly noticed because of his mixed heritage. He feels like no one understands him. They sit beside each other in the bus, and they slowly form a friendship over comic books and rock music.
Their romance is unfolded very beautifully in the first half of the book. The characters are so believable in their own skin. I was immediately pulled in by the way they think and feel. I thought that Park was just the sweetest boyfriend anyone could have. He was an instant likeable character for me. Eleanor is a bit more complicated, what with her home background and bullying ordeals. She puts on a brave front for her mom, her siblings and her school but you could FEEL how scared she was the entire time. I seriously just wanted to hold her hand and be there for her.
Their relationship becomes deeper each day, with them discovering things about their own selves at the same time that they're learning more about each other. I can't help but feel my heart growing heavier and heavier as the story progressed. I kind of understood what Park meant when he said that Eleanor was it for him but she didn't want him to think of an "after" for them, like she already gave up and accepted the demise of their love. This is where my problem with this story lies.
I've always said that I didn't need to always have an HEA to enjoy a book. BUT, the main thing I want is for the characters to be happy and to be content with whatever decision/conclusion they made. I was ready to give all my loving to this book after I've read the last paragraph and saw Park smile. But then I made the mistake of re-reading the prologue and THAT'S what's keeping my stomach in knots up until now. I can't handle it when my hero or heroine is left broken!
Overall, I found this book to be a sweet, emotional read with fantastic writing and amazing characters. It's just the direction of the story where I'm having trouble with. I am hoping for a sequel!