Book Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

157457535 out of 5 Stars!!!

I couldn’t get enough of Rainbow Rowell’s writing in Fangirl, so I had to search out what other novels she’d written.

I’d actually seen this one on display at a couple different bookstores and hadn’t really been drawn in by the description. But knowing how much I loved Fangirl, I figured I’d give it a shot.

The Blurb

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 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.

My Thoughts?

Wow… just wow… I don’t even know where to begin with this book.

It’s the 1980’s. And being in high school is hard.

Eleanor is the awkward new girl. She’s not skinny, doesn’t wear the right clothes, and doesn’t act like your typical sweet girl-next-door. When she climbs on the bus for her first day at a new school, no one wants to share a seat with the red-haired new girl. Until the “weird Asian kid” scoots over to offer to share his seat.

And promptly cusses her out.

That “weird Asian kid” is Park, and he’s half-Asian actually. Park has never quite fit in. His parents met in Korea, where his dad was stationed for military service, and they’re still madly in love with each other. Although his dad is a tough, overbearing, giant of a man, Park is short and slightly effeminate, even if he can deliver an impressive tai kwon do kick.

This novel follows Eleanor and Park through their year at school, beginning with those first awkward days sitting in silence, then sharing comics, then music, and finally even hanging out together after school. Both Eleanor and Park are misfits, though when they’re together, the rest of the world seems to fall into place.

This is one of those books that left me giggling like a little girl one moment and made me feel like punching something the next. These two are just so adorable… I couldn’t get enough! The dialogue and internal monologues are ridiculously real and raw, digging into the harsh realities of growing up when you don’t really fit in.

Although this book is a romance at heart, it is first and foremost a coming-of-age story about two teens dealing with difficult situations in life. And nothing is sugar-coated. There are scenes of spousal abuse, sexual harassment, bullying (including fat-shaming), drug use, and plenty of discussion about sex (though the book doesn’t get into the nitty gritty of things). So, don’t jump into this novel thinking it’s your typical cutesy teen love story.

I can honestly say that Eleanor & Park is one of my new favorite books. A strong 5 out of 5 stars! If you’re looking for a sweet love story that’s also brutally honest and real, pick this one up 🙂

Happy Reading!

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