Eleanor & Park - not case of teenage wild life?

Eleanor & Park - Rainbow Rowell

As an adult I find it pretty hard to fully relate to the characters in this book, not because they are not well written or well rounded, they are, but because I find it difficult to relate to the typical insecurity that the protagonists face, especially because I didn't share them with them either when I was a teen nearly three decades ago. Unlike Eleanor, I did stand up for myself when I was being bullied, which (I have to admit) did happen in my pre-teen and early teenage years. I didn't have a Park though, nor was I a red-head, but that's another story ;) So, I can relate to Eleanor's sense of being the odd kid that's being picked on at school. I do painfully remember what that felt like. But her passive non-confrontative way of dealing with is certainly not something I can relate to [[[spoiler]]] especially towards the end of the book when she ran away from home[[[/spoiler]]].

As a few other reviews have pointed out, their romance feels forced and unnatural: where did the sudden attraction come from? A reluctant friendship makes sense, and that's portrayed quite well actually, and I liked how it build up, but the sudden romance? Where did that come from? I don't get it. If fact I personally didn't need the romance at all, I passionately hate romance novels, seriously.

Overall, the book was a good recommendable read. The characters were compelling and well-rounded, and I must say that I found it daring by the author to include the nasty element that bullying is. More books should do that, especially since more light need to be brought on it, especially after all the tragic cases of suicides by bullying that we have all read about in recent years.