Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

July 11, 2013 Review 24 ★★½

Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
(Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository)

Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Source: Borrowed
Pages: 325
Release Date: February 26th, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
“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.




Gosh, I don’t think I have ever been so conflicted about a book before. I’m not even sure I would be able to pick a rating for ELEANOR & PARK if I hadn’t have rated each category by breaking the story down. It’s so… different that you aren’t positive if it is five stars or one star. As I thought about longer, I realized my feelings were toward the lower end of the spectrum.

Eleanor & Park are misfits, plain and simple. Park stands out as the only Korean in school, and Eleanor sticks out because she is the new kid-and well, because she’s Eleanor. The author kind of wrote Eleanor to be as weird as possible without being totally “I-don’t-want-my-children-near-this-monstrosity” type character.

The plot follows the basic YA contemporary formula of two people who seem like they would never be friends, much less have a romantic interest in each other. Add in some family drama and dramatic elements, and bask in the love of readers everywhere. Luckily, ELEANOR & PARK was written in such a unique way that is set itself apart from other books in its genre.

And I loved that. Until at the very end it seemed like there was an unnecessary twist thrown in to just add drama and angst. This ruined the novel for me. Eleanor and Park already had a great love story, and adding that twist made it seem like it was worth much less. Because of this, I couldn’t sum up that much emotion for that “bittersweet ending.”

The writing style is not for everyone, and some parts of vulgar in the way they are brutally honest and spot on to how most teenagers speak. I recommend this to older teens.

If you are a die-hard fan of contemporary, this is probably a sure winner for you. But if you are getting tired of reading contemporary romances because they can get repetitive-avoid it. Especially if you are someone who takes offense easily or likes their novels squeaky clean.

Rating Report
Overall: 2.6

24 Responses to “Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell”

    • Alise

      Yeah the first chapter can really show you how the rest of the book is going to be and I think it actually gets worse. At least content/language/situation wise.

  1. Soma Rostam

    Well, Alise, I don’t think ANY review, negative or not, can sway me into not reading this book
    From the first moment i read the blurb, I am in love, and I am a huge contemporary fan, so I am hoping that I won’t be disappointed.
    I love the beauty of first love, of high school love, and since Eleanor and Park are almost my age level, I would really connect with them
    GREAT review , nonetheless
    Your reader,
    Soma Rostam recently posted…Review: A Night To Forget by Jessica Wood

    • Alise

      No worries, I feel you, it’s just something you have to read for yourself. I’d be interested to read your thoughts on it!

  2. Aman

    Eleanor and Park was my must-read book when it came out and it was almost like I was dying to read it, but then I kind of cheated and read the ending before, and now I don’t even want to read the book. I’m sure Eleanor and Park were very memorable characters, but I’m not a fan of bittersweet endings, so I don’t think I’m going to read this one anytime soon. Thanks for the review, Alise!
    Aman recently posted…Review: Uncharted by Tracey Garvis-Graves

    • Alise

      I completely agree, if I had known I don’t think I would have read it either. You are so right in saying they are memorable, just in a really weird way xD

  3. Sunny

    I have mostly heard good things in the beginning, but then more negative reviews and mixed ones where, like you, they don’t know how to rate it. I’m intrigued though, but I’m glad I’m warned about the vulgarity!

    • Alise

      Yeah, I went into it not knowing about the language and kind of had to step back it was so extreme. I would love to read your review of this one if you ever give it a chance!

  4. Kezia

    I don’t mind contemporaries and my friends seem to like this a lot but I’m just not…interested in it. And I don’t mind swear words or dirty books (NOT EROTICA though) — the dirtiest book I’ve ever read so far is Looking for Alaska and I surprisingly wasn’t annoyed with the slangs. But I guess some books just don’t need swear words/ many teenage slangs to make it sound believable.
    Kezia recently posted…[ARC Review] Prep School Confidential by Kara Taylor

    • Alise

      Aha xD But yeah, sometimes I feel authors throw all that language to make their teenage characters seem more “realistic.” It doesn’t seem like that here though, at least not too much. I really need to read Looking for Alaska..

  5. Charlotte Eve

    (That picture of Eleanor and Park is so sweet!)

    You definitely hit the head on the nail when you say that the ending makes the love story worth much less. I mean, it felt like it was added because Rowell wanted something exciting to happen. It was all just a bad move. I might have forgiven the drama as long as the characters stayed the same. But Eleanor was just completely terrible. She didn’t seem to care about how Park felt (other than her wanting him to love her) and ignored him for months on end. All she had to do was call him or write him a letter saying she wasn’t feeling up for communicating with him at the time.

    Oops, long comment :P
    Charlotte Eve recently posted…Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell: review

    • Alise

      I’m so glad you agree! Oh gosh, don’t even get me started on how she just decided to ignore him for no reason. So frustrating. I don’t even really get the ending, is it supposed to mean they will be together eventually or never again?

    • Alise

      I liked Park much more than Eleanor, he had such a great personality. Yeah, the ending left way too much open.

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