Eleanor & Park

Eleanor & Park

Two misfits.One extraordinary love.Eleanor... 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...

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Title:Eleanor & Park
Author:Rainbow Rowell
Rating:
ISBN:1250012570
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:328 pages

Eleanor & Park Reviews

  • Emily May
    Oct 15, 2012

    Three stars is not a wholly negative rating but I have to admit that I'm disappointed with this one.

    has enjoyable parts, but the only real difference I can see between this and

    i

    Three stars is not a wholly negative rating but I have to admit that I'm disappointed with this one.

    has enjoyable parts, but the only real difference I can see between this and

    is that the characters in the latter are meant to be hot. Which could have been interesting because I've always preferred reading about the so-called freaks, losers and ugly people, but these two books follow the same generic pattern of teen love stories with a whole ton of behind-the-scenes angsty issues.

    It's 1986. Eleanor is the new girl and she is not only genetically made to look like a victim but she does herself no favours by pairing her looks with a bizarre fashion sense. Having nowhere to sit on the school bus, she takes a seat next to the clearly reluctant Park. Park is half-Korean in an extremely white school, but he is given enough respect by the popular kids to help him get by. His home life, unlike Eleanor's, is pretty much perfect apart from a bit of badgering by his dad.

    Slowly over time, these two individuals develop a relationship that is formed around stuff like reading comics together and exchanging mix tapes. And other nerdy things like Star Wars and Shakespeare - which I could easily relate to. I think one of the major problems I had with this book is that I

    . Their relationship to me seemed more suited to friendship than love. The progression from reluctant bus partners to friendship was natural in the story, but I then felt that the jump from that to romantic and/or sexual feelings was too fast and unbelievable.

    Not only that, but where I felt the start of their relationship avoided the usual cliches and did something a bit different (like the way their relationship begins without them speaking to one another), I felt that once they were "together", it quickly dissolved into the usual sweet nothings and thoughts like "I'll die if I never see him again" after knowing each other for a few weeks.

    . Or perhaps I really am just a cold-hearted, unromantic person. And I also didn't like the way chubby Eleanor receives self-validation through Park:

    I did like the well-rounded feel of both characters, though. The author gave them many different levels, making them experience a range of emotions in a realistic way. I also thought the darker element of this novel were mostly handled well. Eleanor's home life is revealed gradually in a frightening way. But it does just make it easier to compare this book to

    . And I don't like it when serious issues like domestic violence are used to fuel the love angst and create a Romeo and Juliet kind of forbidden love scenario. It just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

    will be great (hopefully) for fans of quirky, nerdy romance stories with an underlying dark angsty side, and for those who love nerdy references. If you don't usually like young adult romance and were eying this up as possibly being the book to change all that... you'll probably be disappointed.

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  • Steph Sinclair
    Mar 01, 2013

    Should I break out in song and dance to "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep?" One lonely star. I'm just as surprised as you are, considering I just KNEW going into

    that I would love it, love it, love it. What reason would I have to believe otherwise? Almost all of my friends loved this book and have sworn fealty to the Goddess of Feels and Might, Rainbow Rowell. And I get it because she

    a pretty awesome person and I think she is totally lovely. So trust me when I say I REALLY wanted to

    Should I break out in song and dance to "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep?" One lonely star. I'm just as surprised as you are, considering I just KNEW going into

    that I would love it, love it, love it. What reason would I have to believe otherwise? Almost all of my friends loved this book and have sworn fealty to the Goddess of Feels and Might, Rainbow Rowell. And I get it because she

    a pretty awesome person and I think she is totally lovely. So trust me when I say I REALLY wanted to love this book. In fact, I am blindsided that I didn't, saddened that I can't join the

    Kool Kidz Fan Club and disappointed at such a disjointed reading experience.

    Random Reasons Why I Didn't Like This Book:

    My main issue stems from the romance between Eleanor and Park. I just... didn't get it. Though, that's not for lack of trying because I had many arguments with Adult Me and Teen Me in my brain. Teen Me remembers the infatuation of meeting someone exciting and experiencing all those special moments for the first time. However, with Eleanor and Park, it was entirely unrealistic and unbelievable.

    Park went from "God! Just sit the fuck down, Eleanor!" to "God, she has incredibly soft hands."

    Eleanor went from "That stupid Asian kid" to "He's so pretty. I love his hair! I want to eat his face!"

    The next thing I know, Park is telling Eleanor that he's in love with her, how he can't imagine being without her, that she's IT for him. Then Eleanor is telling him she doesn't breathe when she's away from him. Adult Me was not on board because the romance moved entirely too swiftly for my feelings to catch up with the events that were taking place. No, I take that back. "Swiftly" would indicated that there was some sort of actual pacing involved, but that was absent. One day they disliked each other and the next they were holding hands and proclaiming their love.

    I remember listening to that part while I was out on a morning run, and I had to stop and rewind because I legitimately thought I missed an entire chapter. But then I realized that I hadn't and I argued with myself.

    Adult Me: *twitch*

    Teen Me: Yeah, but remember when you thought you were in love with that guy and how you were going to marry him?

    Adult Me: Yes...

    Teen Me: So obviously they're not going to be together forever and ever and gallop into the sunset, but you can't discount those feelings.

    Adult Me: *gumbles* I KNOW THAT. But I also never wanted to eat a guy's face...

    Teen Me: Please don't tell me I grow up without a heart.

    Adult Me: ...

    takes place in Omaha, 1986, where there's racial tension. Park is half white and half Korean. He spends most of his time trying not to be noticed by other kids at school and struggling with his own insecurities over his mixed heritage. Yet, oddly, throughout the entire novel, Park doesn't encounter any racism. Apart from a few brief monologuing sessions about his classmates thinking he was Chinese, Eleanor's off-hand "stupid Asian kid" remarks and Park's own dislike for, in his opinion, looking too feminine, there wasn't anything that felt accurate.

    Park's character had so much more potential that was not utilized. I was hoping for something more from his development regarding how he viewed himself and his mother. Perhaps a certain level of acceptance or resolve would have been appropriate.

    There were also two black girls who befriend Eleanor, but even they don't seem to face any racism in this predominately white neighborhood. It was like Rowell deliberately tip-toed around them and instead threw in a reference to the community being offended by a black boy getting a white girl pregnant. Strangely, the only one who seemed to get picked on was Eleanor. I do think it's awesome that this novel had diversity, something that is sorely missing in YA, but I wasn't buying what Rowell was selling.

    At the same time, Rowell never let you forget that this book was set in the 80s since

    is overloaded with pop culture references on almost every other page. (I admit to chuckling to the 867-5309 reference.) Still, we also never forgot Park was Asian with Eleanor constantly referencing it in her narration to the point that I started feeling uncomfortable.

    I wasn't a huge fan of the back and forth narrative and found that it annoyed me more than anything. This is where I wonder if my rating is more an indication of how I felt about the audio vs. the actual story. I disliked both of the narrator's voices. The parts of Eleanor's dialogue that was "snarky" wasn't portrayed with the right kind of emotion. Park's narration was slightly better, but the narrator, Sunil Malhotra, bored me to tears with his monotone reading and unbelievable voice for Eleanor.

    I'll be honest and admit that it's possible that I didn't "get" this book. It may have just gone

    over my head. Why? Rowell tried to cram a lot of story and situations into one little book and it didn't work for me. Before going into

    I was told that the ending was heartbreaking, but I didn't feel that at all. Rowell relies on Eleanor's grim family life to spark sympathies from readers and I can see how this works and why it's marketed to John Green fans. However, the ending relies on your connection to their romance to feel the heartbreak. The problem with that was, by the end, I wanted to know what became of Eleanor's mom and siblings, but the focus was instead on her feelings for Park and letting him go. Eleanor spent a good amount of the story in this terrible environment, feeling these feelings and when I genuinely wanted to know her feelings about everything, all I get is a freaking post card and the book ends. Since the romance was doing absolutely nothing for me, I needed for the plot to come in and rescue this book. It did not.

    I'm not saying this was a terrible book. Not by a long shot. It's clear that this story has touched a lot of people and I wouldn't go as far to not recommend it, but I also think this is a bit overhyped. I went in with really high expectations, thinking I was going to be blown into next week by the awesome. Instead, I'm walking away with feelings brewing a special pot of "meh."

    Even still, I'm holding out hope for

    ...

    More reviews and other fantastical things at

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  • Jesse (JesseTheReader)
    Mar 15, 2013

    HOLY BATMAN THAT ENDING. I'M A MESS. THAT HURT, BUT IT DIDN'T AT THE SAME TIME. WHAT IS THIS FEELING EVEN? NYEAAHHH.

  • Kat O'Keeffe
    Apr 10, 2013

    AMAZING BOOK! Heartwarming and heartbreaking all at the same time! I wasn't expecting to care so much about these characters and their relationship but I was completely caught up in this story. It's told in 3rd-person past tense, which I sometimes have trouble connecting with, but not so in this case! I feel like I really know both Eleanor and Park, and I love them both separately but I especially love them together. It seemed like their relationship shouldn't work, but it does, so well. I was g

    AMAZING BOOK! Heartwarming and heartbreaking all at the same time! I wasn't expecting to care so much about these characters and their relationship but I was completely caught up in this story. It's told in 3rd-person past tense, which I sometimes have trouble connecting with, but not so in this case! I feel like I really know both Eleanor and Park, and I love them both separately but I especially love them together. It seemed like their relationship shouldn't work, but it does, so well. I was grinning like an idiot while reading because I was just so giddy over their blooming romance. I could feel how much they cared for each other like it was oozing off the page.

    Overall, I loved this book--the characters, the romance, the writing and just the way everything unfolded so beautifully and felt so real. One of the best contemporary novels I've read in a while! DEFINITELY RECOMMENDED!

  • Cinda
    May 30, 2013

    I've often said that nobody should write for teens who doesn't remember what it was like to be one. Rainbow Rowell remembers, and has captured it beautifully in this book.

  • Duchess Nicole
    Jul 02, 2013

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    The setting? 1986...I was five years old, but I do remember random tidbits of the eighties...memories mostly accompanied by a cringe. But not here. This story was perfection. I think I liked it even better than

    , simply because it was more dramatic and poignant. Eleanor and Park (the people) stole my breath.

    The initial story starts out with Eleanor, the new girl in school, getting on the bus for the first time and having no place to sit. Everyone is staring, no one helps her out, including Park. Finally, Park caves in and scoots over so that she can sit down, but he does it grudgingly, almost angry with the stupid redheaded girl in the frumpy man clothes who made such a spectacle of herself. Over the next weeks, these two go from pointedly ignoring each other to a reluctant yet silent cameraderie, bonding on the bus over Park's comic books and eventually music. Once their silence is broken, the floodgates sort of open, and they become fascinated with one another.

    The dual point of view here quite literally

    Being in Park's head as well as Eleanor's was paramount to my enjoyment. Park has a romantic soul, made evident by the way he thinks of his Eleanor, the way he goes from train wreck curiosity to utter fascination and adoration with the awkward girl with so many secrets...he stole my heart.

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    These characters are unique...so new and fresh, the word has been reinvented. Eleanor comes from a broken home...quite literally, her home is broken. Her parents, both not so great to begin with, are divorced. Her mom remarried a man who loves to drink and loves to bully...and bully he does, but he does so much more. Eleanor's back story is one to make me feel like the world's best mom quite simply because I could never allow what happened to her to happen to my daughters. And yeah...her mom ALLOWS this bastard to treat Eleanor like trash, allows her daughter to be left alone and scared, without the support and love that a parent owes their children.

    Park, on the other hand, has a wonderful home life. His Dad met his Mom in Korea, married her and brought her home. They still kiss and hold each other like they haven't seen each other in months. They are simply adorable, and no matter how Park rolls his eyes, the reader can tell that his parent's love for each other gives Park a wonderful sense of security that he absolutely takes for granted...as kids really

    be able to.

    It takes awhile for Park to realize what kind of life Eleanor is leading.

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    It seemed to me that this high school love story is one of the few that I can actually see continuing on through the years and becoming...more. The bond between Eleanor and Park is already so deep, so strong. Nothing will keep them apart. They are young but they are realistic. They are also made for each other, and though Eleanor seems to be more skeptical, I know that deep down, she wants this to be a forever kind of thing...more than any other wish in the world, aside from her tragic circumstances, against all of the odds, she just wants Park.

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    This goes down as one of my favorite books of 2013, and Park goes onto my favorite heroes shelf. Because he

    the best kind of hero...the one who saves his girl against all odds, who fights against the world because of his devotion. I loved this story with all my heart. It was just beautiful. Recommended read for everyone.

  • Katrina Passick Lumsden
    Oct 18, 2013

    If you've experienced that first love - that heart-wringing, soul-squeezing, crush-the-air-out-of-your-lungs-whenever-you're-apart first love - this book will bitch slap your feels all to hell.

    I love it. I love its warmth and its vibrancy, its heartache and its pain, its humor, its meanness, the ugliness, the beauty, the crying, the laughter, the sarcasm. I love Eleanor and I love Park, and I love that there's still a tiny chance for them...and for everyone whose first love was torn away. Ev

    If you've experienced that first love - that heart-wringing, soul-squeezing, crush-the-air-out-of-your-lungs-whenever-you're-apart first love - this book will bitch slap your feels all to hell.

    I love it. I love its warmth and its vibrancy, its heartache and its pain, its humor, its meanness, the ugliness, the beauty, the crying, the laughter, the sarcasm. I love Eleanor and I love Park, and I love that there's still a tiny chance for them...and for everyone whose first love was torn away. Even if you never see that person again, they change you in ways that no one else will ever understand. They will always,

    hold that little piece of your heart that no one else will ever be able to touch.

    I love you, Rainbow Rowell, for giving me this. Thank you.

  • Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
    Nov 17, 2013

    I fully admit that I'm a sucky book reviewer. This book for me was so personal that this review is just for me.

    Eleanor is just that girl. The weird one that people pick on. Who knows exactly why? She doesn't stand up for herself, she doesn't fight back. I was that girl. This is me my 10th grade year.

    If this book had been around then I would have completely worn the pages out. As it is I feel like highlighting and just re-reading the thing until it falls apart.

    Talking about Romeo and Juliet Ele

    I fully admit that I'm a sucky book reviewer. This book for me was so personal that this review is just for me.

    Eleanor is just that girl. The weird one that people pick on. Who knows exactly why? She doesn't stand up for herself, she doesn't fight back. I was that girl. This is me my 10th grade year.

    If this book had been around then I would have completely worn the pages out. As it is I feel like highlighting and just re-reading the thing until it falls apart.

    Talking about Romeo and Juliet Eleanor's comments were "It was 'Oh my God, he's so cute' at first site. It's Shakespeare making fun of love."

    Exactly.

    I hated PE class. That was the worst time of my school life. Not because I didn't want to participate..that's just when the mean girls/boys were the worst. "I'm going to tell Mrs. Burt that my mom doesn't want me to do anything that might rupture my hymen. For religious reasons." I can't tell you how many notes I forged in my mom's name and how creative I was in those reasons.

    Park's thoughts on Eleanor at one time. "He couldn't figure out why it upset her so much. Sometimes, it seemed like she was trying to hide everything that was pretty about her. Like she wanted to look ugly."

    Believe me..you do get to that point. You don't really understand why. Your mind just completely gets to the point where if everyone else thinks badly about you, so do you.

    I never had my Park. I did have friends. But I can remember when the teasing started that I could see the embarrassment on their faces too. You hate to see that but it happens. I don't think worse of them now. It just happened.

    I ended up leaving home at age 15. I went out on my own and met new people and guess what? I wasn't judged like I had been in middle and high school. I realized it was just that group of people. I can be included in groups of people and liked for who I am.

    My daughter faced some bullying last year at school. Not because of what she looked like or wore. (she is beautiful) She was picked on because she stood up to the bullies that were picking on a friend of hers. So I did learn something from my teen years. I raised someone who just won't stand for it.

    And now me? I'm the queen bitch of you piss me off and I'll tear your arm off and beat you with it. (well in words anyways).

    Remember guys and girls. What doesn't kill you makes you strong as hell.

  • Lola  Reviewer
    May 25, 2016

    I should have read

    during winter, when it’s freezing outside.

    Because it completely warmed my heart, and it’s so hot already, I thought my heart would burst into flames inside my chest.

    Believe me or not, but I always thought I was immune to the usual young adult romanticism in books. You know: hand holding, shy smiles and flushed cheeks. I didn’t think I would ever feel actual butterflies reading a YA contemporary romance book.

    But I did. And it took me by such surprise that at

    I should have read

    during winter, when it’s freezing outside.

    Because it completely warmed my heart, and it’s so hot already, I thought my heart would burst into flames inside my chest.

    Believe me or not, but I always thought I was immune to the usual young adult romanticism in books. You know: hand holding, shy smiles and flushed cheeks. I didn’t think I would ever feel actual butterflies reading a YA contemporary romance book.

    But I did. And it took me by such surprise that at first I didn’t even know what it was. What? Can a book really have this kind of effect on a human being?

    Well, I have my answer now.

    Eleanor & Park… It’s like they’re the main reason why the word ''love'' exists. They symbolize true love.

    It’s not dirty, or sickening, or lustful or manipulative. It’s like two angels fell in love and you can see a halo above their heads and all you can think is ''God, I wish them forever. If

    can last, then maybe there is hope for the rest of us,'' and then you can’t help but cry.

    I wanted to lock the characters some place safe where they could be together, forever protected from the looming danger in the world.

    Oh god, I can’t believe it took me this long to read

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  • Natalie
    Jul 24, 2016

    I randomly decided to read

    again because I have no chill.

    Also, I recently picked up

    (for the tenth time), so that definitely had a weighing hand in whether I should reread more of Rainbow Rowell's stories. But I don't have any regrets for rereading this wondrous book.

    This review contains

    .

    Eleanor is the new girl in town, and with her chaotic f

    I randomly decided to read

    again because I have no chill.

    Also, I recently picked up

    (for the tenth time), so that definitely had a weighing hand in whether I should reread more of Rainbow Rowell's stories. But I don't have any regrets for rereading this wondrous book.

    This review contains

    .

    Eleanor is the new girl in town, and with her chaotic family, her mismatched clothes and unruly red hair, she couldn't stick out more is she tried.

    Park is the boy at the back of the bus. Black T-shirts, headphones, head in a book — he thinks he's made himself invisible. But not to Eleanor... never to Eleanor.

    It's really been a while since I last visited Eleanor and Park's story, I even forgot some things here and there. And I always, always forget Eleanor's backstory with Richie, which then makes my heart tighten all anew when I reread it.

    But let's start at the beginning: Eleanor and Park sitting next to each other on the bus, not talking, not staring.

    Until one day...

    Ahh, I forgot how much I loved these characters, they're so precious to my heart. Their interactions were so timid (in the best way).

    Also, can I just mention their first ever meeting because I'm on cloud nine:

    I love the "Jesus-fuck," it's gold.

    Slowly, steadily, through late-night conversations and an ever-growing stack of mix tapes, Eleanor and Park fall for each other.

    God, I love those weirdos.

    And their first conversation on the phone always gets to me:

    Eleanor's question punctured me right in the heart. It reminded me of

    in My Mad Fat Diary (which is set 10 years after

    ), where Rae asks Finn something similar.

    (Season two was my favorite.)

    And not only were the romantic aspects of this book described wonderfully, but the familial relationships astonished me.

    I just find it remarkable how Rainbow Rowell can write both incredibly supportive fathers (Fangirl) and incredibly not supportive fathers (Eleanor & Park). I just... How does one make both work so well???

    I'll never forgot Richie's awfulness. I mean, what kind of next-level creep writes such horrendous things on someone's books? He's a bastard. A demon. I hate him.

    (Rebecca Bunch knows what's up.)

    So when Eleanor formed a close bond with Park’s family, I truly thanked the stars. I mean, it took Park kicking Steve in the head for Eleanor and the family to really connect, but all was good.

    I loved seeing her happy.

    And speaking of happy... I completely adored Eleanor and Park's first kiss (maybe a little too much).

    These guys...

    I really loved them getting together...but I didn't like it when they said stuff like:

    Ha! That’s what I kept thinking, “but you’re like twelve…” Seriously though, why are you in such a rush???

    But a lot went down afterwards that not only broke my heart, it broke all the surrounding area too.

    The whole escaping and running away in the middle of the night kept me on the edge till the last page. Rereading those passages made me feel so worried and worn out by the end.

    I'm... just extremely grateful Eleanor managed to escape without running into Richie the Bastard, but I'm still so worried about her future. And I kept thinking, 'what about the little kids?? What's going to happen to them??'

    That last sentence is still breaking my heart.

    So I was extremely grateful when we got some closure on the kids:

    But damn, that ending never fails to hurt me right at my core.

    Okay, so I've had years to think about what my guess is for the three words, and I keep coming back to: 'I miss you.'

    It's very casual, no strings, no obligations.

    What's your guess for the three words?

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