Review: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

March 7, 2013 ARC, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Eleanor and Park, Rainbow Rowell, Realistic Fiction, St. Martin's Griffin, St. Martin's Press, YA, Young Adult 22

From Goodreads:

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, this 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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Beautiful yet tragic in its own way, Eleanor and Park was a touching novel filled with laughs, swoons and heartbreak that enraptured me from start to finish.

Eleanor is the new girl at school. She comes from a home with a large family and not a lot of means of support. Steering clear of her abusive stepfather at every turn, she is used to being somewhat invisible, trying not to draw attention to herself. But don’t let that fool you. She doesn’t want to be someone she is not. Unfortunately, she is subjected to bullying on the bus and at school for her weight and the color of her hair. One day, Park shares his seat on the bus. Slowly this leads to a quiet friendship where they share their love for comics and music, until it builds into something so much more. Park has his own social insecurities about his looks and being half-Korean. But something magical happens between these two. Something so sweet and special. They open up to each other and come out of their shell in certain ways.

I have so much love for Park. SO. MUCH. LOVE. Can I go back in time and find a high school boyfriend like him? Seriously, this boy’s world was Eleanor. From wanting to ask for batteries for every future birthday just so he could share them with Eleanor, to wearing eyeliner to school because he wanted to be like her, not afraid to be different.

   Eleanor was right: She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.

Of course everything is not easy for these two. Eleanor’s home life is dire. As I was reading I just kept waiting and waiting for the other shoe to drop because you know it will. And when it does, you feel so much for her, her family and what it means to her and Park and their future. The story was so real and raw, filled with emotions that left me hanging on to every word. I loved everything about it and I think what made it so unbelievably wonderful for me was Park. I didn’t want the story to end, which is probably my one and only teeny-tiny gripe, I wanted more at the end! But I think that might just be me being greedy. 😉

   “No.” She lifted up her chin. “No… I just want to lie low, you know? Like as long as I stay out of his way, I’m fine. I just have to be invisible.”
   Park smiled.
   “What?” she asked.
   “You. Invisible.”
   She smiled. He let go of her hands and held her face. Her cheeks were cold, and her eyes were fathomless in the dark.
   She was all he could see.

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(Quotes were taken from an ARC and may differ from final copy.)

Sara @ Forever 17 Books

22 Responses to “Review: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell”

  1. Jennifer Messerschmidt

    Awww this sounds amazing! I totally looked it over and the cover never caught my eye but everyone is raving about it. Sounds like such a sweet romance. I know all these YA books make me wish I had a wonderful high school boyfriend but they were all jerks. I don’t think many books boys exist in the real world.

  2. Megan TheBookBabe

    I agree with Jennifer, this does sound amazing! Park sounds like a total sweetheart, and I can’t wait to read about Eleanor’s home life, even though that makes me a rubbernecker. I have a love for drama. 😉 Terrific review, Sara! (:

    Megan@The Book Babe

  3. Christina / Book Addict

    This sounds so adorable and Park sounds amazing. It seems like there’s some aspects to this book, like Eleanor’s home life, that keep things serious which makes it a little more than your average contemporary. I will definitely have to add this to my TBR list. Great review!

  4. starryeyedjen

    I think I might make this my next listen. It sounds touching and funny and like a really great read. Love books with all the feels. 🙂 Great review!

  5. Sel

    I just finished reading this book and I adored it! It made me bawl my eyes out and fall head over heels in love with Park (he just loves Eleanor so much that it hurts). I can’t seem to calm down enough to write a decent review :/ But yours is great!

  6. Kate @ Ex Libris

    I loved the ending so much because I thought anything more would have taken away the authenticity of the story. This has been one of my favorites this year. Great review!

  7. Born Bookish

    I have this book sitting in my huge pile of library books right now. I totally need to read it like yesterday! Park sounds like the most sweetest guy ever! I can’t wait to read about him and Eleanor’s relationship. I like relationships that build slowly so I like that they start out as friends and it grows into something more. Great review Sara!


    I’ve been dying to finally read this book! It seems like such a cute contemporary read and I’ve been dying for a cute romance for what seems like ever! Plus, I need a break from my fantasy/ dystopian books I’ve drowned myself in these last few weeks!
    Great Review, glad to hear you enjoyed this one! 🙂

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