It is 1986 in Omaha, Nebraska. Eleanor is the new girl on the bus. It's hard being the new girl, especially because she's always had a hard time fitting in; she's a little chubby, has fiery red curly hair, and wears clothes like ties with over-sized men's flannel shirts with silk ribbons tied to her wrists.
Park does his best to fit in, although he's always felt like somewhat of an outsider. He's part Korean, which definitely stands out among his nearly 100% white classmates. He's short and wears all black. He's neighbors with the most popular boy in school, so the cool kids mostly leave him alone; he even dated the most popular girl once-in 6th grade.
When Eleanor walks on the bus for the first time, everyone shuns her. No one will make room for her to sit. Park feels embarrassed for her, and although he offers to let her sit with him he's not happy about it; he's actually angry. Why does she have to make it so hard on herself, dressing like she does? Doesn't she care what anyone else thinks about her?
They sit every morning and afternoon in silence, until Park realizes she's been secretly reading his comic books over his shoulder. Eventually he begins bringing her comic books to read on her own. This is the bright spot of Eleanor's day, which is generally filled with the taunts and outright harassment of her popular classmates. An unlikely friendship begins to form, until it's clear there is something between them that means even more. Maybe everything.
I absolutely loved this book. I think everyone can relate to feeling out of place, and what it's like to have a secret. Although it does have romance it isn't cheesy; some very real issues are dealt with. You will quickly become entrenched in the tale of Eleanor & Park.