New Teen Fiction

'Eleanor & Park' by Rainbow Rowell

Book cover of Eleanor and Park by Rainbow RowellEveryone on the bus has their chosen seat, including Park Sheridan, a Half-Korean punk rock aficionado with a penchant for wearing black.  Park keeps to himself, cranks up the volume on his Walkman and tries to stay invisible, lest the bullies at the back of the bus pick him as their next victim. But the new girl, big, awkward, red-headed train wreck Eleanor, a lightning rod for bullying, appears and Park reluctantly and offensively offers up the unoccupied seat next to him.  An unlikely friendship begins, gradually followed by a heart-breaking romance.

Mid 80’s West Omaha, Neb., is the backdrop for this powerful coming of age story in which two very different teens struggle with self and community acceptance under circumstances that offer little chance of either. Park lives next door to his grandparents in relative affluence and some social status in an all-white neighborhood while going to a predominately black high school, but has a father who constantly criticizes Park for being effeminate.  Eleanor is new in town with much in common with her neighborhoods, being poor and from a broken home, but her stepfather is a truly menacing presence whose mental and physical abuse of her mother impacts Park and Eleanor’s budding relationship.

Eleanor & Park is a sensitive finely wrought portrayal of star-crossed lovers with a memorable soundtrack thrown in.

Enjoy!

Find more reading suggestions at Staff Picks.