Eleanor & Park
November 28, 2021 1:08 AM - Subscribe

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits-smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you'll remember your own first love-and just how hard it pulled you under.
posted by Literaryhero (5 comments total)
I am apparently going through all of Rainbow Rowell's work in reverse, so here we are. I actually only just started the book, but I like it so far.
posted by Literaryhero at 1:09 AM on November 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

The Asian YA community has long decried this book for its racist portrayal of Park. This is not my field of expertise, so I would like to link to YA author and editor Ellen Oh's discussion of Eleanor and Park, to get her perspective.

*First Discussion
*Second Discussion

Also reviews:

* Clear Eyes, Full Shelves
* Rich in Color
* Northwestern University NuReview
posted by headspace at 7:43 AM on November 28, 2021 [3 favorites]

The Asian YA community has long decried this book for its racist portrayal of Park.

Yeah, noticed that after I got a little further into it. Not going to finish this one, I don't think.
posted by Literaryhero at 11:57 PM on November 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

I loved Eleanor & Park when I read it on its initial publication, but a lot of the discussion around Rowell's depiction of Park makes me not want to read it again. When I first read these discussions, I knew that Rowell was married to a Korean man, and that a lot of Eleanor's weird issues around Park's race were things (I assumed) Rowell dealt with when she started dating her husband. Looking back on it, my good-faith assumption made Rowell come off worse. :-/
posted by pxe2000 at 8:59 AM on November 29, 2021 [1 favorite]

I found this to be a worthwhile read. Definitely worth being aware of the race issue, but for me (not a mixed race or Asian person, so not directly affected) it isn't a book I would put on the "definitly avoid" pile.
A lot (not all, but a lot) of the pushback I'm seeing seems to be a conflating Park's self loathing because of growing up in a racist world, with the writer herself being racist.

I can understand people's frustration with yet another depiction of a mixed race character trapped in self loathing. And not wanting to read it for that reason. But for me, this book still had enough complexity and power to feel like I had a lot to learn from it.
posted by Zumbador at 8:52 PM on December 2, 2021

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