Eleanor & Park

by Rainbow Rowell Year Published: 2013 Young Adult Fiction
Everything about this book makes me love it.  It breaks the mold of the traditional YA female characters who are thin and beautiful but doubt themselves at every turn of the book.  Set in the 1980s, Eleanor is a heavy set teenage girl with wild curly red hair who embraces the eclectic fashion of the times--or maybe she starts it.  Regardless, this makes Eleanor stand out as different from her peers.  While you might be thinking, "Oh, this is a book about a girl who is bullied but somehow manages to make it through," it is yet so much more.  We also have to factor in Park whose mother is Asian and father is American and seems to fit all the stereotypes yet doesn't.
The first person narration switches between Eleanor and Park.  With this, we witness the evolution of Eleanor and Parks relationship from both their perspectives.  They move from contentious to lukewarm to passionate all while riding the bus to school each day.  This unusual setting for a romance makes it all the better and more realistic.  Their love sneaks up on them and springs from their mutual love of comic books.  However, the book is about more than just their love, it deals with poverty, abuse, isolation, and the struggles of a teenage relationship.  The characters leave their mark on you while your reading and they stay with you after the book is finished.     
I started this book when we took off in Boise and finished it before we landed in Brazil.  Although a thin book, the story itself won't let you put it down.  This book is for those who enjoy realistic fiction, the 1980s, and comic books.