Book Review - Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: 26 February 2013
Genre: YA Contemporary
My Copy: Library - hardback

Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

... Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough...Eleanor.

Park... He knows she'll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises...Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.


I have to admit I had kind of mixed feelings about this one. Eleanor has crazy curly hair like me, although mine isn't red. She doesn't care what other people think about how she looks, but it's more out of necessity than because she's a rebel. Not to say she doesn't have a little rebel going on as well. She's kind of a hard character to describe, very complex. She's quiet and prefers to keep to herself; however, in her new school, her classmates just won't let her go to class in peace. Park is a different kind of quiet. Whereas Eleanor is quiet so that she isn't noticed, Park is more introspectively quiet. He's kind of your average teenage boy who worries about what his classmates will think of himself and Eleanor, but through the book he gets over that some.

Eleanor and Park begin a relationship on the bus very quietly and almost by accident. He brings comic books to read on the bus, and eventually catches her reading over his shoulder. He starts bringing more onto the bus for her to take home and read, and the relationship slowly develops out of that. There's no insta-love if you're the type of reader who hates that. Everything isn't as it seems with Eleanor though, and through the book more and more of her private life is revealed.

Overall, I enjoyed the book, but it didn't flow well for me. It constantly changes from Eleanor's point of view to Park's point of view. It doesn't seem to do it with any rhyme or reason. It can be paragraph to paragraph or page to page. During important scenes it seems to do it more frequently, which takes away from the scene to me. Others might like that you see the scenes from both perspectives; it's just not for me. The book was fairly realistic and believable until the very end, which I can't say much about here, but a key point I was thinking, "Really? That wouldn't happen." If you like contemporary YA, then you'll probably love this one!


Holding Eleanor's hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like holding something complete, and completely alive.

Disintegrated. Like something had gone wrong beaming her onto the Starship Enterprise. If you've ever wondered what that feels like, it's a lot like melting--but more violent.
Maybe Park had paralyzed her with his ninja magic, his Vulcan handhold, and now he was going to eat her.
That would be awesome.

Park rolled over onto his stomach and pressed his face into his pillow. He'd thought he was over caring what people thought about him. He'd thought that loving Eleanor proved that. But he kept finding new pockets of shallow inside himself. He kept finding new ways to betray her.

Sometimes, Park stood at the end of the sidewalk and hated everything the house stood for.

You think that holding someone hard will bring them closer. You think that you can hold them so hard that you'll still feel them, embossed on you, when you pull away. Every time Eleanor pulled away from Park, she felt the gasping loss of him.

Rating Breakdown:
Plot: 5 stars
Pacing: 3 stars
Characters: 5 stars
Ending: 4 stars
Recommend: Yes, particularly if you like YA contemp.


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