Review: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

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eleanor and parkTitle: Eleanor & Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Date(s) read: February 25 – 26, 2013
Genre: YA Contemporary
Source: Publisher (ARC)

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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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Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for providing me with a copy of this book for review!

When I first accepted this book for review, I’ll admit that one of the only reasons I was really interested in reading it was because of the recommendation from author John Green. Since I love John’s writing, I’ll pretty much try anything he wants me to read! (Well, this request came in a Goodreads chat — not from John personally to me. THAT would be awesome.)

Really, when I started reading this, I assumed it was just going to be some kind of contemporary romance — two kids meet and fall in love. You know, the typical thing. But this book turned out to be so much more. There were quite a few issues in the story that I felt my heart breaking at times and at other times it was soaring. There was a great blend of hard times with the more lovelier times of Eleanor and Park getting to know one another. 

The characters were great in this story. I really felt for Eleanor and her family situation. At first, when I was thinking that there would be nothing really serious about this book, I had not really prepared myself for the seriousness that was about to take place. I could see why Eleanor would want to hide any intimate details from Park — honestly, the parts that focused on the domestic issues really bothered me, so it was kind of nice to have that balance of friendship and romance. It was also nice how different Eleanor and Park were from one another, from their personalities to their home life.

I did really love the throwbacks to the 80’s, like comic books and cassette tapes. There weren’t a lot of these things that I could find while reading, but the odd one that popped up that I could identify with was a nice thing. I also really loved the references to music that were made throughout.

The writing style also appealed to me, with the story being told in alternate point of views between Eleanor and Park. I kind of liked how the story started off with them each having a chapter, and then slowly they’d start to share chapters — sometimes numerous times. It just made sense, with them both being so different and living in such drastic situations, for the story to be told this way.

The only thing that really bugged me with this book was the love itself. For kids so young, it seemed like their love happened a little too immediately and was ALL-CONSUMING right from the start. I liked it when they had a friendship going, but it got serious very fast — and I’m not talking about physically serious, but emotionally serious.

I do think that I would read more by Rainbow Rowell — this was a good introduction book for me! While it may not have been as moving to me as it has been to others, I really enjoyed it, and even teared up in a spot or two. I do love stories that are just about two kids falling in love, but it was kind of nice to switch it up and have something a little more serious.

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Author Links: 
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27 thoughts on “Review: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

  1. I loved this book! Well, I like her other book Attachments better I think, but I still loved it.

    As for the kids falling in love so fast… I actually think she perfectly represented how teens fall in love. I think during high school your first love does kind of happen instantly and passionately and you think you’ll be with them forever even though you almost definitely won’t be.

  2. This sounds really good. I wanted to fit it in so bad, but after reading your review I know I will buy it and give it a go on my own time. It’s too bad that the romance moved a bit too fast for you, that always bothers me too. But happy to see that you enjoyed it overall. Great review!

  3. Hmmmm this sounds like an interesting book. I just added it to my TBR Goodreads.com list. Your review has really piqued my interests. Love the review!!!!

  4. While I haven’t read this book yet, so I don’t have a real grasp of the romance, I do think it can be believable for things to get emotionally intense very quickly between two people. Especially people who may be isolated or troubled or whatever, as I’m suspecting that Eleanor and Park are?

    In any case, the more reviews I read for this book, the more I know I want to read it!

  5. This book was great. I do agree that that they fall in love fast — I laughed when, in the book, Eleanor makes fun of Romeo and Juliet and how much they loooooved each other. But I think when you’re that age, love is sometimes like that. You wake up one day and think that some person is the be-all and end-all and that you’ll love them forever and ever. Which is why I was so happy that the ending managed to be realistic yet not depressing :)

    Jen @ YA Romantics

  6. This one sounds very good. I think I have a very idealistic view of first love, since I’m still in love with that boy I sat beside in Bio 20. ;)

  7. The all consuming love from the start is actually pretty realistic for young’uns. They think they,re in love in a matter of minutes sometimes. But I haven’t read it so it’s hard to say how this one comes off. I have heard so many great reviews on this one I’m definitely curious! On a side note, I’ll be starting the audiobook for Fault in Our Stars (my first by John Green) in a day or 2 :)

    • Oh yay! I’m excited for you to start reading John’s work! :)

      And I’m gathering that this all-consuming love is a big thing these days … maybe I just don’t remember it being SO BIG in my day.

  8. Pingback: Clock Rewinders on a Book Binge (25) | Reading In Winter

  9. I’m glad that when you realized this book was different/more than you originally thought, that it wasn’t off-putting for you, Kristilyn! I’ll admit to being curious about this one from the synopsis, because the main characters sound really self-aware, and I LIKE that in any novel, but especially in YA novels. I think I’ll definitely have to give this one a chance at some point. Thanks for the fabulous, honest review!

    Molli | Once Upon a Prologue

    • Yes, it’s always nice when I realize a book isn’t what I thought it would be and I still want to keep reading! And I loved the characters in this story — even if Eleanor was hard to warm up to.

My home is where my books are. - Ellen Thompson

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