Eleanor & Park

Book review by Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Eleanor & Park Poster Image

Common Sense says

age 14+

Intense '80s romance is a fabulous pick for mature teens.

Parents say

age 15+

Based on 17 reviews

Kids say

age 14+

Based on 73 reviews

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Racist

Don't bother with this book. Eleanor is a character that constantly is racist to her "love interest," Park. Also, Park is not even a traditionally Korean first name, but a LAST NAME. The author stereotyped the people of color and characterized them mainly by racial stereotypes associated with their race. Park's own mother was called a "China Doll." Don't bother reading this book or watching the movie.
3 people found this helpful.
age 15+

Please find other books to read.

In the time since this book’s debut, many readers (including myself) have realized this book contains a lot of casual racism, fetishization of Asians, and harmful stereotypes usually involving the Koreans and Korean-Americans in this story. Firstly, the author makes the two main characters out to be “strange” and “outsiders”. Eleanor is strange because of her red hair, and Park is “strange” because he… is Asian. The racism Park faces should not equate to Eleanor’s hair color and weight. Eleanor often focuses on the appearances of Park and his mother, usually in a negative way. She says, “His mom looked exactly like a doll… tiny and perfect… Eleanor imagined Park’s dad, Tom Selleck, tucking his Dainty China person into his flak jacket and sneaking her out of Korea.” The comparison is supposed to be a compliment about how delicate and “perfect” Park’s mother is, but it just furthers the stereotypes that Asians are tiny and “delicate”, and that all Asians are the same. She calls his mother a “dainty China person”, when she is in fact Korean. Eleanor later says, “Park’s eyes got wide. Well, sort of… Sometimes she wondered if the shape of his eyes effected how he saw things. That was probably the most racist question of all time”. She knows she's being racist, but no one ever does anything to change this. “Park” is a Korean last name, not first name. Park embodies many common East Asian stereotypes: he takes taekwondo (which is incorrectly used interchangeably with “kung fu”), is great at math, struggles in English, and is often described as “small” and “feminine-looking”. He also has a lot of self-loathing, mostly having to do with being half-Korean. Park also has a lot of internalized anti-Asian hatred, and doesn’t think he’s attractive specifically because he’s Asian. The book also contains harmful stereotypes in Eleanor’s friends, two Black girls who are only loud, sassy, and constantly ready to fight someone. There are many other things to say, but I wanted to keep this as concise as possible. Please seek other books by Authors of Color! Books I recommend instead: - Love From A to Z by S. K. Ali - To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han - Wicked Fox by Kat Cho - When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon - Frankly In Love by David Yoon
3 people found this helpful.

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For kids who love romance and the '80s

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