Book Review: Eleanor & Park

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.

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Title: Eleanor & Park

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Published: February, 2013 by St. Martin’s Press 

Time it took me to read: 09/01 – 15/01

Rating: 4 out of 5

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In 1986, two teenagers met on a bus. Eleanor, the misfit with strange clothes and fire engine-red hair, and Park, the only Asian kid in town. When Park first sees Eleanor, he thinks she’s weird. I mean, someone who dresses so weirdly and puts strange stuff in her hair is basically asking to be noticed. He doesn’t want the weird girl to sit next to him on the bus and attract attention to him, too, but since that’s the only seat, he doesn’t have a choice. But as the weeks go by, he notices that she likes the same things as he does: comic books and music. They start talking, and he loans her his comic books and makes her mix tapes. And even though Eleanor isn’t always as nice as he would like, he starts falling for her. Until he can’t think about anything else.

Eleanor isn’t a happy girl. Her parents are divorced and she’s now living with her mom and horrible monster of a step-father. She needs to be really careful around her house because there is always the fear that Ralph, the step-dad, will throw her out like he did before. They dumped her on the neighbors couch and didn’t pick her up for a year. Now, she’s sleeping in 1 room with all her brothers and sisters and has to bathe right after school when Ralph is still at work because the bathroom doesn’t have a door. In short, her life is looking pretty bleak. Until Park offers her an out.

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I want to rave about this book so badly. Have you ever had that feeling? That feeling you get when you’ve encountered a book that has everything that makes a book good and you want to rave about it until everyone in the world has read this book.. but you’re just not feeling it? Does that make sense? It’s like, I recognize that it’s a good book and that it’s pretty great but I just don’t feel that connection to it. However, that’s not to say that I didn’t like it! I liked it a lot actually. I just didn’t feel like devouring the pages.

Anyway, everything about this book is good. Park is good, Eleanor is good, the story is good, the ending is heartbreaking. It’s all just.. good. I liked Eleanor’s back story a lot and I was very invested in how that was going to turn out. I thought that Park’s troubles at home were a bit too much. I mean, it came pretty much out of nowhere and it didn’t really play a role. It make me feel like, why is this part of the story? It didn’t contribute.

What I definitely did love about this book is that the love story is like none other. It’s not love at first sight, it’s not the popular guy falls for the beautiful but doesn’t know it shy girl, it’s not a remake of ‘she’s all that’. Eleanor is not very pretty, and she’s not even necessarily nice, and yes she is weird, but Park falls for her regardless of her weirdness. And then their relationship is not perfect. Eleanor has to deal with her home situation, and Park has to deal with his friends not understanding and his mother not approving. It’s hard and there are struggles that you don’t really see in the average YA books. That’s what makes the book great for me.

I rated this book a 4 out of 5 because the book basically has everything it needs to make it great, but not enough of book magic to make me absolutely love it. I definitely recommend it though! Give it a shot and tell me what you think.

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Author: EMK

Just blogging away in my free time while I try to make something of my life

6 thoughts on “Book Review: Eleanor & Park”

  1. I really enjoyed this book! Of course, I’m a die-hard fan of anything pertaining to the 80’s, so it was practically a given that I would like it. I particularly like how Rowell built Eleanor and Park’s relationship, in all of its awkward splendor. It felt completely genuine to me. And I loved the ending: the postcard and the things that were left unsaid. Apparently, I can gush about this book 😉

    1. It did feel very genuine, to be honest. I really liked how they fell in love, it felt very honest. I mean, Park doesn’t love everything about her and Eleanor doesn’t like everything about him either. I really liked that it wasn’t Love At First Sight like in so many other YA books nowadays. I don’t know about the postcard though. It’s so open! I would have liked a closed ending. I think that it would have fitted perfectly if they didn’t end up together.

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