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I hated this book. I usually really enjoy YA books. I'm not a huge fan of romance stuff, but I enjoyed The Fault in Our Stars and Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda so it's not like I'm completely heartless.
I'm not entirely sure what it was exactly that made me hate this book so much. Part of it is probably that growing up, I was the Eleanor who latched onto the first guy who was nice to her to escape my home life and called it love. I was the Eleanor who started insignificant fights with my boyfriend because I didn't really know what a healthy relationship looked like and was overly insecure, anxious, and jealous. It was all a coping mechanism. It wasn't healthy, it wasn't romantic, and it led to a series of unhealthy relationships. In the book, all of these unhealthy things add up to a deep romantic relationship between two children who don't know the first thing about being in an actual relationship. In real life, it adds up to pain, hurt, and a lot of unhealthy coping mechanisms you spend years unlearning.
In this novel, Eleanor is looking for an escape. She finds it in Park. Park is looking for someone to rescue so he can feel important. He finds it in Eleanor. I hate that the novel presents these kids dealing with huge issues (bullying, abuse, poverty) and seems to think that they can just love each other and make everything better. That's not how real life works.
As with many YA novels, rarely do the characters actually go to an adult about their problems. Eleanor can't even bring herself to ask an adult for a toothbrush. She just accepts it. I hate literature that presents this as normal or something kids should just deal with. They should go to adults with these issues. It puts way too much pressure on kids and teens to think that they have to deal with all of these problems alone. Go to an adult and seek help. No one should have to live that way. Looking back, I wish I had talked to an adult about my problems. And don't think some boy is going to save you. This is the same fairy tale BS we grew up on. Save yourself, don't wait around for some dumb prince.
The narration was okay, but I hated the characters. The only people I liked were side characters who hardly played any role in the actual story. Why couldn't she develop her friendship with DeNice and Beebi instead of putting all her BS onto Park? Don't just throw yourself in a relationship, girl, friendship is important too. This basically just teaches girls to put all of their energy into romantic relationships (growing up, that's what I did and it really hurt my female friendships, not a good idea). Having female friends to confide in is an important way to deal with stress.
I get the historical context of the novel, but the unaddressed racism seemed irresponsible in the text.
The whole book surrounds this ridiculous "romance" and there is nothing else. So if you don't like the "romance", you're going to be bored out of your mind.
I really did not enjoy this book. It put my in a horrible mood every time I listened to it. It's not even one of those books I'm glad I read to see what all the hype was about. It was something I just wanted to forget as soon as I was done reading it.