Review: Eleanor and Park

I had been really looking forward to reading this book since every person I know seemed to absolutely love it. I have finally read it; took me two days and I have so many mixed feelings about it. Here goes.

I want to love the book, but I can’t. It’s problematic.

First of all, the POVs kept changing and it got really annoying at some point.

Eleanor: I could relate to her at some points.  She was a good character but I really hated when she kept calling Park “Asian” all the goddamn time. And also, Eleanor, no, Asian people don’t see things smaller just because our eyes are like that. There are also some other racist comments and I cannot just forgive Eleanor for that.

Park: I liked Park. And since Rainbow Rowell said that the book is based in a time when the neighborhood was racist, I found it weird that Park being half Korean was almost never bullied. Park hates himself because he’s half Korean, which is okay, but I felt like at some point in the book Rainbow Rowell should’ve given him a moment of self-discovery – which she didn’t and it was disappointing.

The story: I liked their love story; it was nice and diverse (although after 300 pages or so, I constantly kept checking how much more I had to read). I read a few reviews and realized that the historical setting of the book is incorrect (something that has to do with the Vietnam War) but I don’t care much. Rainbow Rowell couldn’t write a POC properly. She probably felt like she could nail it but she didn’t. It had me desperately wishing Park should have been a white boy. After all, she did write Park’s character from a totally white person’s POV. Also, yes, more racism (Park’s mother being referred to as a China Doll speaking funny English just because she is Korean, etc). Enfin, I really didn’t like how the book ended. This book really wasn’t for me. If it wasn’t for the racist slurs, I would have actually loved it.

 

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