Eleanor is the new girl in town, and with her chaotic family life, her mismatched clothes and unruly red hair, she couldn’t stick out more if she tried.
Park is the boy at the back of the bus. Black T-shirts, headphones, head in a book – he thinks he’s made himself invisible. But not to Eleanor… never to Eleanor.
Slowly, steadily, through late-night conversations and an ever-growing stack of mix tapes, Eleanor and Park fall for each other. They fall in love the way you do the first time, when you’re young, and you feel as if you have nothing and everything to lose.
If there was ever a book to take you back to being a teenager and falling in love for the first time this is it.
There are parts of the book that have stuck with me, Park is so bloody sweet, he realises this thing that has been missing all his life is Eleanor. Not that he really knows how to handle those feelings to start with, but he finds his feet and realises he doesn’t need to ignore her on the bus, if only she would stop staring at her feet.
Eleanor never wanted to fit in, only to be accepted and not be the source of the laughter, when it comes to her first day at school and she has to work out where on the bus is best for her she sees an empty seat, at the back of the bus next to a boy who is too engrossed in his comic book to care for her.
After a while of Eleanor attempting to not make contact with Park on the bus she starts to read his comics over his shoulder, and he starts to turn the page slower when he realises she’s reading too. Could this be the start of a beautiful friendship?
Park almost ruins it when he strolls over to Eleanors house to read a new comic with her and her evil alcoholic step father answers but in ninja like fashion Eleanor manages to sneak out of the house to spend a little more time with Park, not on the school bus.
This opened up a whole new level of friendship, hushed talking on the bus, planned group work in class and ‘accidental’ hand holding meant that Park had found her and she him, but how could it work when Eleanor was weird and Park was popular?
The book goes through the hardships of being a young new couple when you two are different people. And when the first kiss happens it will send butterflies through you as a triumph, but how long can the two keep this up if they’re doing it all in secret, will Park’s family accept her? Will Eleanors mum and stepfather hate her?
When Eleanor discovers a series of nasty notes on her school books, she and Park go on a hunt to see who has done it and after one particularly blissful night with Park, Eleanor goes from heaven to hell when she gets home and realises just how bad her stepfather can be.
Park springs into action, they have an escape plan but will it work?
“I don’t like you, Park,” she said, sounding for a second like she actually meant it. “I…” – her voice nearly disappeared – “think I live for you.”
He closed his eyes and pressed his head back into his pillow.
“I don’t think I even breathe when we’re not together,” she whispered. “Which means, when I see you on Monday morning, it’s been like sixty hours since I’ve taken a breath. That’s probably why I’m so crabby, and why I snap at you. All I do when we’re apart is think about you, and all I do when we’re together is panic. Because every second feels so important. And because I’m so out of control, I can’t help myself. I’m not even mine anymore, I’m yours, and what if you decide that you don’t want me? How could you want me like I want you?”
He was quiet. He wanted everything she’d just said to be the last thing he heard. He wanted to fall asleep with ‘I want you’ in his ears.”