Even though the 80s is the milieu of my formative years, I usually avoid books set in that era. Endless description of torn jeans, huge hair, and 80s music makes me cringe, rather than wax poetic over the best days of my life. Because, seriously, there's nothing sadder than an adult who thinks high school was the pinnacle of their existence. Obviously, I don't; hated high school.
That said, Eleanor & Park
uses the setting effectively without overdoing it with the references to 80s fashion and pop culture. For the most part, the story could be set now.
Anyway, I loved the misfit heroine, Eleanor, and her sort-of-misfit boyfriend, Park. Park is the kind of kid who lives on the fringes of cool-kid society, and therefore really isn't an
outcast. (Edited, because, as a comic book aficionado, he is a geek.) Which makes his relationship with Eleanor, the weirdo, all the more unusual.
The angst is provided by Eleanor's horrible, and I mean absolutely, "I just want to reach into the book and beat the shit out of these fuckwads," horrible parents. Her parents are divorced; Dad only contacts her when he needs a sitter for the progeny created in his new marriage; and mom is the kind of woman who should be spayed. I.e., she hooks up with an abusive asshole who beats her and terrorizes her kids. Perhaps, as an adult, I'm supposed to sympathize with her.
Well...I don't. I have no respect for any woman, fictional or real, who lets anyone abuse her children. Any man who laid a hand on my child, baby daddy or otherwise, would earn free castration via a blow torch.
So I spent a chunk of the book absolutely fuming at Eleanor's parents, and reading ferociously, hoping she'd finally get out of that horrible home.
Longer review to come...maybe. In short, two very likeable teenage protagonists in a simple but compelling plot.