Review: ELEANOR and PARK by Rainbow Rowell

by Rainbow Rowell
ISBN-13: 978-1250012579
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Pages: 320


Read an excerpt: HERE
Rating:  ♥♥♥♥♥

"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 & 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 is the new girl in town, and she's never felt more alone. All mismatched clothes, mad red hair and chaotic home life, she couldn't stick out more if she tried. Then she takes the seat on the bus next to Park. Quiet, careful and - in Eleanor's eyes - impossibly cool, Park's worked out that flying under the radar is the best way to get by. Slowly, steadily, through late-night conversations and an ever-growing stack of mixed tapes, Eleanor and Park fall in love. They fall in love the way you do the first time, when you're 16, and you have nothing and everything to lose. Set over the course of one school year in 1986, Eleanor and Park is funny, sad, shocking and true - an exquisite nostalgia trip for anyone who has never forgotten their first love. 

Have you ugly cried so hard that you are just one hot mess of emotions? Well that is precisely what happened to me when I read ELEANOR and PARK BY Rainbow Rowell. This beautiful story between two intelligent and offbeat teens that are jinxed from the start but make perfect sense together. I cried and laughed and cried some more but will never forget them, ELEANOR and PARK forever!

Once I began reading ELEANOR and PARK I could not seem to stop for I was immediately drawn into their story especially since it came from their alternating POV's. From the moment that Eleanor came into the scene she stood out for the wrong reasons but she didn't care. She was fluffy, tough and eccentric yet oddly vulnerable and once I understood her story I could not help but admire her. Park on the other hand was on the fringe of popularity, smart, handsome but completely adrift in his comics and music...until he saw Eleanor. Their initial encounter was anything but love at first sight yet you knew that there was something truly special between them and as the days passed and their hearts opened I was treated to some of the most heart warming moments that I can never forget.  

One of things that I enjoyed most about ELEANOR and PARK was it's era, 1986 before a time of cell phones and PC's, where communication was done on a more personnel level. This fact created a mood of longing and desperation that truly made this story work even more. The music, that was such an integral part of their story because it meant so much more back then. Going back to that time was nostalgic but It was done in a subtle manner that was well appreciated.

Some of the most difficult moments to read was of Eleanor's home environment. Her poverty, abusive step-father and lack of self esteem all so heartbreaking.  At times it was so frustrating and very distressing and I would be left screaming in frustration.  UGGGGG!!! ...but despite how things are for Eleanor her relationship with Park made it all fade away when they came together. It is like the world blurred and went out of focus while they became sharp and oh so clear. Their feelings towards each other were beautiful and honest and it shone through so that I could not see anything else. I attribute this all to how evocative and moving certain moments passed between, even the simple action of holding hands was taken to a completely different level.

ELEANOR and PARK is a fantastic story and Rainbow Rowell did a magnificent job of not only creating a love story between two memorable characters but she also wrote some of the best dialogue that I have witnessed in a long while. I still get all teared up at times just thinking about certain moments between Eleanor and Park and had to include one my favorite's that I adored.
"You don't like me..." he said, leading her, pressing the base of the phone into his lowest rib.
"I don't like you, Park," she said, sounding for a second like she actually meant it. "I..."--her voice nearly disappeared--"think I live for you."
He closed his eyes and pressed his head back into the pillow.
"I don't think I even breathe when we're not together," she whispered. "Which means, when I see you n Monday morning, it's been like sixty hours since I've taken a breath. That's probably why I'm so crabby, and why I snap at you. All I do when we're apart is think about you, and all I do when we're together is panic. Because every second feels so important. And because I'm so out of control, I can't help myself. I'm not even mine anymore, I'm yours, and what if you decide that you don't want me? How could you want me like I want you?"
After reading that passage how could you not want to read ELEANOR and PARK? I'll forewarn you that this book does not end in a neat and pretty package but it does offer a promise of hope and new beginnings and that is what made me smile despite my tears.

Although you may ugly cry and run through a box of tissues you will love this book and sorely miss those two characters when you finish the last word. Oh my foolish beating heart. I am so madly In love with this book, ridiculously "in love" to point that I want everyone to share In this joy. READ THIS BOOK NOW!!  ELEANOR and PARK is for anyone that loves a great contemporary read or a book that is simply amazing.

**For those fans of this story I found another post about this book and it had a cast picked for this book that was perfect, please check out THE SELECTIVE COLLECTIVE 


  1. what a great review! so many things you said were right on the money. and thanks for linking to our casting :) i like when people agree with me :) ~daphne

  2. Oh NO! Another sad book? I think I cried enough tears with TFIOS.

  3. Oh dear, going to have to read this and have the big snot tears. I was 16 in 1986, I think it's going to hit close to home.

  4. I adored this book! I need to do a formal review yet.


Let's Discuss!