Can you forget your first love? Eleanor & Park.

I confess I didn’t have any great expectation for this book. I simply kind off wadded through the first few pages, but I was hooked by the relatively simple narrative.

The chapters are divided between Eleanor and Park. This is an unusual format for a young adult novel.

Park is an Asian kid who loves punk music, while Eleanor is a fat, red head who lives in a terrible, abusive house with an offensive step dad, mother and three other siblings.

Eleanor is terribly poor whereas Park has everything in life. This contrast between the characters is the rudiment of the success of the novel. The stories development is organic. Park and Eleanor sit near each other in the bus but they don’t share any words. Park usually reads comics and he notices Eleanor sitting near him and reading whatever comics Park is reading.

This rather strange encounters begins to develop between them. First, he begins to share his books with him, and then they hold each other’s hands—phone calls, and finally sexual experiments.

The story is poignant mainly due to Eleanor’s house. She is a victim of a notorious step dad.

There is also the incident of filthy words beings written on her notebook on gym days, but only in the end it becomes clear that her step dad has been trying to get at her physically.

Eleanor and Park is truly a wonderful story of innocent love. The ending, however, is something of a tragic nature. Eleanor never replies to Park, and Park always waits for a reply finally stops writing letters. The pain is almost impossible for him to be overcome—the pain of first loves failure leaves the reader in deep despondence.

It is not one of the best YA novels. The language is too simple, and it hardly has any surprising element. But this simplicity is probably the reason this book has become more famous. It simply captures what it is to be in love in everyone’s teenage years.

I really didn’t want them both to part. I wanted them to be together forever, but I know that is never possible. The book ended in a realistic tone. Park finally one day receives a postcard with only three words scribbled over it, and guess what they were? Yes, the one you thought about right now.

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D. Ronald Hadrian
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