Friday, January 24, 2014

Book Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Title: Eleanor & Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Published: St Martin's Griffin, 2013

Bono met his wife in high school, Park says.
So did Jerry Lee Lewis, Eleanor answers.
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be, she says, we’re 16.
What about Romeo and Juliet?
Shallow, confused, then dead.

I love you, Park says.
Wherefore art thou, Eleanor answers.
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be.

 Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.

If you are a frequent visitor to my blog you might be saying to yourself, “Hey! Weren’t you supposed to be reading High Fantasy this month? You always have a theme for the month and this month was High Fantasy. Eleanor & Park isn’t even Fantasy.” And yes, you would be right, but here’s the thing about Fantasy… They are soul-sucking, life-ruining, hangover-inducing types of stories. So I decided to take a break from High Fantasy. I wanted to read something fun and lighthearted. And let me tell you, that is NOT what Eleanor & Park is, but despite that fact it was very enjoyable.

This book came extremely highly recommended. It is on pretty much every best of 2013 list and the top of a lot lists. Everyone raves about this book. Last year I read Fangirl and was incredibly impressed with the book and Rainbow Rowell’s writing style. She does not disappoint in Eleanor & Park. She proves how phenomenal a writer she is of YA contemporary. What she does so well is balance the heavy moments with light and funny moments with such ease and poetic precision. As the reader I ran the gambit of emotions while reading this book. Eleanor & Park handles a lot of heavy moments like bullying, family issues, and self esteem that can not only cause the characters but also the reader to sink into a quagmire of depression but Rainbow offsets these sad moments with enough funny and sweet moments that it bring you out of the doldrums. 

The main plot of the story, however,  is about first love. The love story of Eleanor & Park is amazing and realistic. It’s shared interests developing into romantic attachment not insta-love, and even though it does develop over a slightly slower period of time but when it hits, it hits hard. It feels like that first teenage puppy love kind of relationship where you are obsessed with a person and want to spend every waking hour with them. It was sweet and lovely and it gave me all kinds of feels.

What Rainbow Rowell also does incredibly well is write realistic and likable characters. What continues to impress me about her books is how I feel like these characters are so real. You cannot only relate to them but you know people who are just like them if you’re not personally like them yourself. I found myself easily able to visualize the characters and finding real life counterparts too many people that I know. And because they are so relatable you couldn’t help but empathize with the characters and when they had to endure struggles and hardships you wanted them to succeed and achieve their goals. A lot of what made them so real is that many of the characters were deeply flawed and extremely complex. I felt like there was something more than what was on the surface but when it came down to it you liked the ones you were supposed to like and didn’t like the ones you were supposed to not like. I know this seems like an obvious statement but I don’t think it’s often the case, at least not for me. Even the way that the characters interacted with each other felt realistic, from how Eleanor and Park talk to each other, to how they talk to their classmates, and even how they talk to their parents. It all felt so genuine and I felt like I was sixteen again while I was reading. Rainbow Rowell just touches a part deep within your soul and brings you to a time that you’ve since forgotten.

If I had to find one word to describe Eleanor & Park, that word would be effortless. Everything about this book was effortless. The plot flowed in a beautiful and deft way that made the book so enjoyable to read that before long I realize that I had wasted an entire day and finished the book. For me when I was the book I was emotionally drained and all I wanted to do was curl up in a ball and sob until the feelings of crippling sadness washed over me leaving me with that eerie calm that can only come from a cathartic cry. I of course mean this in the best possible way, because Eleanor & Park is nothing but fabulous!

I give Eleanor & Park 10 out of 10

If you are like me and in the slim majority of people who have not read this book you seriously need to drop everything and do it right away! This book is an incredible Young Adult Contemporary Romance and absolutely worth your time. If you have read Eleanor & Park leave me a comment with your thoughts and of course HAPPY READING!


  1. I'm in that slim majority, and the majority that haven't even read any of Rainbow Rowell's *waves*. I'm planning on rectifying that soon though, since I keep hearing so many good things, and I love when can not just relate to the characters, but when they feel real, the interactions with one another, they always make the best books despite the genre. It kind of makes or breaks a book with me, and it sounds like this makes it. Glad you enjoyed it, and great review! :)

  2. Great review. E & P was already on my TBR, but now I feel I have to get my hands on it as soon as possible :)

  3. I read this book last month. It has all the feels! I loved it.