Review: Eleanor and Park

Author: Rainbow Rowell
Date of Publication: April 26, 2013
Pages: 328
Source: Library

Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

... 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.

I don’t know what to say. I want to say that I enjoyed it but that is not completely true. I did however feel inclined to finish the book because of some story lines that broke my heart.

I’ve been curious about Rainbow Rowell’s work for some time and despite my curiosity, I felt a little like her books aren't for me. When I saw the audiobook available from my library e-catalogue I thought it was time I answered that question once and for all. 

Eleanor and Park is a love story but it is more a coming of age story and a story about family and friendship masked under a very youthful portrayal of first love. It was realistic in all the cute and clumsy ways first love can be. Eleanor is unattractive, but she is also unique. Park is biracial in a place where that isn’t a normal but he is twice the man many of his other friends will ever be.

Reading about the two of them was cute. I liked the awkwardness. But when they fell in love, I didn’t. I felt like the older sister watching as my little brother fell in love in a completely childish way. To me, Eleanor and Park were best friends who hit puberty and rushed into a romance. That’s not a bad thing though, its very much real life.

The highlight of the book for me was their respective families. Park’s parents were a dream team. They loved each other despite the differences of culture and the sacrifices that had to be made like the fact that Park’s mom had to leave her family behind and adjust to a whole different world. 

Park’s family was a foil to Eleanor’s. Where one had the average 2.2 kids the other was swarmed with red headed children. Where one had a loving parental unit, the other was composed of two divorced and selfish parents. My heart went out to Eleanor in this area. She was strong and brave. She did stupid things but she was a child.

When it comes down to it, I understand why everything happened. I feel like the things I had a problem with were intended by Rowell. The romance was intended to be clumsy and awkward, because this isn’t a romance, it’s more than that. Still, I felt that it was very slow. My fingers itched to click the next button and skip the chapters as the words drawled on and the plot progressed at an ant's pace. 

Eleanor’s push and pull and severe anxiety and self image problems were hard to deal with. She dished all her drama onto Park who only asked something simple. It bothered me that she made a big deal about the simple idea of getting a makeover. No having some makeup on doesn’t change who you are and even if it did, it’s not a bad thing. No one is trying to change you.

Overall, it was cute and probably what many people would like from it but for me I noticed the good but I also was annoyed by a lot of the things going on. Eleanor was my main problem and I couldn’t completely connect with her despite how much my heart went out to her.



  1. Sorry you didn't love this one. The characters are a required taste, aren't they?

    1. I agree, they definitely are and while I liked them a bit, it wasn't enough.


  2. Aw, I'm sorry to see that you didn't enjoy this one. I loved it because it was a really cute story. Some of the parts weren't that good and I admit that they might've rushed into things but that's what makes it teenage romance! I'm a teen and I must admit that teens rush into things like dumbasses. I hope your next read will be better!

    - Ariella @ Secrets of Lost Words

    1. Haha, still a (late)teen so I get where you're coming for. I guess everyone has different expectations going into this one and it just didn't satisfy my reading need :)


  3. Hm, so sorry that this wasn't for you -- but your review was still great. Good examination of the story and your reactions to it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    1. Thank you, that means a lot. Hopefully the next one will be better :)



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