Monday, April 15, 2013

Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Published date: February 26th, 2013
by St. Martin's Press
Pages: (Kindle version)

"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 sixteen."
"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.

Eleanor & Park, with its light-peachy, minimalist cover, drew me in from the first glance. I find the minimalist in me loves when book covers are clean-cut yet beautiful. With the backs of the two characters whose lives are captured inside this book looking out on the reader, it's hard not to love the gorgeous cover. The title as well. I could go on forever about the cover and every little detail on it but I rather this review not be the size of the novel itself.

Eleanor & Park is fashioned like a coming-of-age tale. Both of the main protagonists find out who they are as humans and also how they love along the way. Coming-of-age tales mainly focus on growing up and the way it changes the characters. In a way it's true for Eleanor & Park, but we find Eleanor much too grown-up for her young age. You see, Eleanor finds herself with an abusive stepfather, a seemingly-ignorant mother, and a new town. Cussing, drinking, drugs, and abusing his wife, is Eleanor’s stepdad’s favorite pass time. I've seen situations like this many times in reality so it's no far stretch of the imagination for me. It makes me so very angry to see Eleanor’s home life and how it’s mostly her coward of a mother’s fault. 

The ’80s is a marvelous backdrop to this beautifully written story. It makes me wish I'd actually seen the decade. There was one scene about Park dressing up as The Doctor on Halloween which—after I read that—I started hyperventilating. I am a huge Doctor Who fan so thank you for that, Rainbow.

The story takes off as the two main protagonists meet and Eleanor eventually finds a new friend in Park when the new school she's attending starts. Park is different from any other young adult novel’s male character. He's actually real, interesting, charming, and has actually dislikes and likes. Male characters are often arrogant and quite annoying. Park was a nice change of pace in the YA world.

This novel isn't an insta-love story, not in the slightest. Park just wants to stay out of trouble, stay away from the bullies, and Eleanor is trouble. But when Park finds a way to let Eleanor in—and vice-versa—everything changes for the both of them.

I definitely adored this novel. There was a lot of heavy cussing at some moments, but I was able to look past it as the plot of the book stole me away to the ’80s. It showed me that love can be found even in most unlikely of people. Eleanor & Park is a classic novel and deserves to be noted as so. xx


  1. Dang your review is making me want to drive to the book store right now! This one sounds amazing! People keep loving it and I don't think that I've read a negative review yet. Glad that you liked and enjoyed this one so much! Yay!

    1. You really need to read it! It was so good! :D

  2. What a great review Abby! I wish I could dive into this world, it looks fantastic. I like the idea of a character with likes and dislikes because for me that shows a real character. I love the simplicity and sophistication of this cover as well, thanks for sharing.

  3. It sounds like such a gorgeous read. ^^