I came into this book not really understanding what it was about. I knew that it took place in 1986, which is the year that I was junior in high school. All the references brought me back to high school and the time period. The bad hair, the music, the clothes!
Being introduced to Park was amazing. An introvert that's not. Meeting Eleanor was a bit harder. She's coming from a really bad background and is a shell of herself. When no one wants her to sit with them on the bus, she's really alone in the world. Park opens himself up to allow her to sit down.
They don't speak for weeks, but they're in several classes together. It's not until she starts reading his comics over his shoulder (WATCHMEN), that they start a friendship. Eleanor is quirky. Park is Asian, which he thinks automatically makes him quirky. Especially when his brother looks more Irish than Korean. See Park's dad fell in love with a Korean woman during the war, married her and brought her back to the states.
Park seems to have the perfect life. His parents are still crazy about each other. His grandparents live next door. But as they say the grass in always greener...
Eleanor's home life is a lot worse. Her mother is divorced from her dad and remarried to a complete asshole. I suspect that there is some sexual misconduct between step-dad and Eleanor. However, Eleanor does everything she can to try to keep herself sane and in the house. She's already been kicked out before. One of my problems was Eleanor's mom. Why would she allow something like this to happen to her family? Or herself for that matter?
Throughout all this Park falls in love with Eleanor. She does her best to keep her head afloat, but the bullshit at home weighs her down. But down that rabbit hole she falls and her heart accepts Park.
This is not your typical love story. You have two outcasts who come together with a common love of things. Music, comics, hating home life. Rainbow creates dynamic main characters and scary, horrible secondary characters.
I felt a bit empty at the end. Park helps Eleanor get away from her family (when she finally comes clean to him about what has been going on), and they promise to keep in touch. He does, she doesn't. You want an epic love story, but hey, they are only 16 years old. But in actuality, they are old souls who meld together.
A brilliant love story or a sad story that leaves us unfulfilled? I think it's a bit of both.