The book is set in the mid- 1980s. At the beginning of the school year in Omaha, Nebraska, we learn that Park Sheridan is a Korean high school student living in a seemingly white neighborhood. On the first day of school he spots Eleanor Douglas who may be even more of a wallflower than he is. She is big boned with red hair and habit of dressing like a guy.
Park asks Eleanor to sit next to him on the bus and they have an instant connection. On the ride Park learns eleanor is living in a small house with 4 siblings and a step dad that beats her mother. Soon they swap mixtapes, hold hands and fall in love.
Although their relationship seems to be blooming, Eleanor is forced to deal with an unknown bully who keeps writing obscene comments on her school supplies. Eleanor tries to hide from Richie, her awful step dad at Park’s house but Park’s mother doesn’t seem to accept Eleanor until she learns about her home life and from then on Park’s parents are supportive and caring to Eleanor.
After an amazing first formal date together, Eleanor comes home hoping Richie doesn’t know about Park. This is her worst nightmare, Richie found out and to top that Eleanor finds out that Richie was the one writing the obscene, sexual comments on her textbooks. Scared for her life, Eleanor runs to Park’s house and he drives her to her uncle in Minnesota.
Once they arrive to her uncle’s, they come to the fact that they have to say goodbye. They part and come to terms with living hundreds of miles away from each other. After months of no word from Eleanor, Park finally receives a postcard. It only has 3 words on it. I love you.