Book Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Release date: February 26, 2013

Purchase from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository


Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

Eleanor… 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.


When I picked this book up, I was sure I would find a lovely story about first love and the obstacles that come along with it. But boy, was I wrong. I was so so wrong.

The synopsis leads you a stray. Sure, it’s about two teenage sixteen-year-olds who navigate the waters of what it means to truly love someone. But the story also highlights Eleanor’s dysfunctional home. Her mother is submissive, while her step-father is cruel, manipulative, and abusive. It was a topic that I never would have thought coursed through the pages of this book. It was surprising, but it didn’t mean that i liked it any less.

Eleanor and Park’s love story is set in the 80’s, which is a rad decade. I loved Eleanor’s spontaneous and rather odd pieces of clothing. I also loved Park’s taste in the “hard emo” music. Most of all, I loved the variety of characters. For example, Eleanor is a red head and Park is Korean (I think…I don’t exactly remember). I loved reading the dialogue from Park’s mom as it was broken English as she herself is full blooded Korean. This part in particular was authentic. I could picture my own mother this way as she was an immigrant and while she tries, her English is still a bit shaky. But it doesn’t mean that people dislike her. People loved Park’s mom and I really liked how the community treated her in a respectful light.

I got off on a bit of a tangent there. Sorry, loves!

I adored the progression of Park and Eleanor’s relationship. At first, it was unknown territory. They each were mindful of each other as if the other was a ticking bomb ready to explode. Slowly. Very slowly, did they finally begin to open up to each other. Eleanor kept her life at home a secret from Park for the most part. She didn’t want to expose him to what she dealt with and for me, it was heartbreaking. I wish she would have told him sooner, maybe the story would have ended in a different way. A happy way rather than ripping my heart open and shattering the pieces all over my bedroom floor.

I cried. A lot. It was kind of sad as I was finishing the book over at Kevin’s and he…bless his soul…did not know what to do with me. I wanted to just stop reading all together and sit in a corner, unleashing the onslaught of tears.

I haven’t cried in a long time over a book and I loved that the story was compelling enough to draw emotion from me. Those are good books. This was an amazing read that encompassed real life situations and struggles. I sympathized with Eleanor the most, being angry, sad, and heartbroken on her behalf.

Rainbow Rowell’s writing captivated me from the beginning, drawing me deeper and deeper into Eleanor and Park’s world. The prose, the points of views, the description – it was all beautifully written and visually aesthetic.

I’m glad that this wasn’t what I expected. It was even better than I could have ever imagined.



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  1. Goodbye February, Hello March (2015) | Books Forget Me Knot

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