Once again, I have become a victim of over-hyping. (Insert long-suffering sigh here.)
I wouldn't call this a bad book, certainly. It's very sweet and has some snappy dialogue, and I thought Eleanor's character was extremely well developed. However, Park really didn't gel. Eleanor's thoroughly oddball-ish, but Park just doesn't seem to have much personality or existence without her. His big "I don't belong" is that he's half-Korean, but we never see the other kids giving him much grief about it, and his identity questions aren't delved into deeply enough to authenticate them.
If you're nostalgic for the 80s, you might enjoy this book. On the other hand, it's supposed to be teen fiction, and teens today can't be nostalgic for the 80s since they weren't born yet. The book's really more of a young adult story written for adults. Park and Eleanor's romance is also just not thrilling or charismatic enough to carry the entire story. Some really interesting characters get short shrift, like Park's Korean mother, who won't talk about her life in Korea to Park at all. She finally spills one detail, but then Park's dad convinces her to come to bed, and that's all we get. There's clearly an interesting backstory there, and honestly I wanted to know about her more than I wanted to know if Park and Eleanor were going to stay together.
Also, when your lead couple spend all their time wondering, "Why does he/she like me back?", you need to have a good answer. I understood why Eleanor might fall for Park: he's the only person who's nice to her. I didn't understand Park's attraction to Eleanor, especially since he finds her so repulsive at first glance, and since she is SO prickly and always getting mad at him over nothing.
I might read this author again, but I don't think this particular book is strong enough to deserve all its rave reviews.