Rarely do I find a story that reminds me so much of being 15/16 years old and completely consumed by another person all while dealing with typical school life and family drama. Rainbow Rowell writes Eleanor and Park like she could read the minds and feel the emotions of 2 teenagers.
In the 1980's, Eleanor who is the new girl at school and does not exactly fit in with the other girls with slightly strange clothes and a tangled mess of red hair finds herself sitting next to Park on the school bus, another misfit who has a somewhat ordinary teen life yet there is something not quite right, something missing. With days of silence until it's broken by their mutual love for comic books and mix tapes that Park brings along and shares with Eleanor.
The two of them bond over them and they start to talk about what they like about them and begin to discover they are not all that different at the very core. From then on they are getting to know each other day by day with their journey to and from school where they are alone in their world despite being surrounded by the rest of their classmates. The feelings between them start to develop while accompanied with 80's bands like Joy Division and The Smiths. They evolve like teenagers do, slowly yet quickly, in the same way that you all of a sudden forget what your life used to be like before you met the other person. The troubles of life creeps up and a crossroad appears that push them to the edge.
The soul of this story is based on first love and young love. It can be identified no matter what age you are, if you're entering your teen years or middle aged and with your long lasting love. You will be transported back to the beginning. We all can find something in a story like this. That is what I loved about Eleanor and Park, I found I could relate to the characters as well as the 80's music references. The way Rowell writes both Eleanor's and Park's perspective is so well done. There is a distinct voice of the two minds, I personally enjoy this style in novels, it is not one-sided and it's interesting to see their lives parallel. I did however feel it ended a little too fast and I could have quite happily read another 300 pages. It does open up the possibility of a story to be continued. I guess that is the beauty of a story like this, it continues in our minds.