The book Eleanor & Park is a coming-of-age story set in 1986 about two high school kids who fall in love. Told from alternating points of view, this book shows how they deal with their difficult home lives and falling in love for the first time. It centers on Eleanor, an overweight and insecure girl, who is teased for her red hair, large glasses and second-hand clothes. She sits alone on the bus until she meets Park, a half-Korean student who is also an outsider at his new school.
The book opens with an introduction to Eleanor, as she is walking to school with her headphones blasting music into her ears. Park, who rides a bus to school, notices her and, feeling inspired by the song she’s listening to (Ride of Valkyries), prepares to make his move. He pulls out his own earphones, and when the song ends, he taps her on the shoulder and hands them to her. She is touched by this gesture and the two find a way to communicate through their love of comic books, music, and video games…and their shared social outcast status.
Eleanor and Park’s relationship grows stronger over time. But they are faced with constant obstacles: Eleanor’s abusive stepfather forbids her from seeing Park; they deal with bullies at school; they’re forced to take care of each other as they make their way through a life they never thought they would have to lead.