This was far too mushy for me. This is too mushy for anyone…
I really liked the premise for the story: awkward, not cool kids from the wealthy part of town, teenaged first love. For the most part, everything felt genuine--except the for the host of times Park opened up and Eleanor kinda walks all over him… and then he kept coming back to her.
I also really didn't like Eleanor's stepdad, not because he's an asshat and we're supposed to hate him, but because I was never given a strong enough reason to justify his asshatry. I wasn't wanting to be endeared to him, or cheer for the bad guy, but I didn't think he was believable in any way.
Neither was Park's dad.
"Hey, Dad. I'm gonna steal the car and drive my girl friend a few states away."
"Sure son. Let me give you some cash and road beers for the trip."
Cause that happened speaking of unbelievable parenting.
Park wasn't near as well rounded as Eleanor; he was a bit too perfect; too pretty; too much of everything (hence the mushy. Hell, I was in love with this kid about two-thirds of the way through…). Eleanor is insecure about her weight and we have to be reminded of this on every other page. Park is perfect. Eleanor has super unruly red hair and we have to be reminded of this on every other page. Park is perfect. And so it goes… Despite the alternating third person point of views, which worked very well to my surprise, I did feel the narrative was trying to endear the reader to Eleanor more so than equally to both. My fancy way of saying 'girl book,' not to say Eleanor was a cardboard cutout character because she wasn't.
The ending was awful, and if I'm to be honest, had some very strong elements of realism too. I can completely understand why those who loved it loved it, but unless you're in the need for a good cry and jonesing for the cutest sixteen year old boy in a book ever; pass.