71 pages 2 hours read

Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor and Park

Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 2012

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The Wonder of First Love

The fundamental theme that seems to underlie almost every aspect of this novel is the wonder experienced as a result of first love. In this book, this theme is ultimately expressed through the young couple, Park and Eleanor. Over the span of several chapters, the two go from being complete strangers sitting next to each other on a school bus, to being each other’s respective first loves. Romance is so new to them that the idea of merely holding hands causes butterflies in their stomachs, a situation that anyone who has been in love can attest to. Eleanor and Park is fundamentally a love story, but it also sets the pureness of Eleanor and Park’s love in stark contrast to the powerful hate that Eleanor’s stepfather Richie exhibits toward everyone around him. At this time in Park and Eleanor’s lives, their relationship is the best thing that’s ever happened to them. Park very quickly tells Eleanor that he loves her, and it is apparent that she feels the same way throughout the second half of the novel, but arguably, she never tells Park that she loves him too until the last chapter of the book.