Book Review: Eleanor & Park

Posted September 19, 2014 by Lyn Kaye in book review, Lyn / 4 Comments

Book Review: Eleanor & ParkEleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Published by St. Martin's Press on April 12th, 2012
Genres: coming of age, contemporary, young adult
Pages: 328
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon

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.

The internet is a magical place.  It wasn’t the reviews, or the cover, or the author that sold me this book.  It was the awesome fanart that I found on Twitter.  Witnessing how people reacted and responded to the novel by art gripped me, and when I saw the very last copy on sale at Target, I took a chance.

How could I say no to THIS?? (Credit: Simini Blocker (

Some say that I should have started with Fangirl, but, I was happy to see that the author provided potential for some very riveting writing. Eleanor & Park fell short of my expectations, but I didn’t swear off the author completely.


Discussion of poverty. I’m not talking about Pretty In Pink poor. I am targeting the “can’t bathe every day” and “might skip meals due to budject cuts” category. Low socioeconomic status can really dampen your social growth as a teen. How do I know? Survivor of flat-out poor living right here. Constant fear of money and living conditions really disrupt your way of life, and it does hinder how to interact with people, for fear of discovery that you sometimes go without running water for a while, or that your house is falling apart every time you turn around. It is refreshing to see an author tackle this subject and bring to the forefront that this situation is tough.

Psychological bullying.  Another topic I would like to see discussed in more detail. Parents, teachers, authoritative figures and classmates can abuse their power, and what better target than a teenager or classmate that no one will believe? This happens. Just because this person never hit you, or touched you, doesn’t mean that they can’t hurt you. Nothing is more painful that to try to tell someone that your stepfather called your sister a bitch, or that a teacher was poking fun at you, or the “good Christian boy” just said you were going to hell because you do not attend the right church, only to find snide remarks and eye-rolls awaiting you. It really makes a negative impact when you are told that you are too sensitive, or that you took it the wrong way, or that it was an accident. (Yes, these are real things I dealt with in middle and high school). Or, worst of all, to receive no response at all to your claims. Adolescence is such a delicate balance of stepping away from childhood and facing adulthood. There is that limbo of 4 to 5 years that either make you or break you.  Rowell uses unresponsive adults and peers as a major plot device to sell her point. It works, and it is painful.

Kinda like this.

Fault in Our Formula. Yes, I went there. For all of the positive points of the book, the novel seemed to have taken a page right out of the “How to Communicate with Today’s Teen” approach and sold the reader a saccharine, boring romance to follow in the footsteps of The Fault in Our Stars. The two main characters seemed so much more realistic and likable without the weight of a obligatory relationship to water down some of their more outstanding personality traits. The  heavier points in the book, such as bullying, domestic abuse, and racism, just seem to fall into the background while the trw lurve takes the limelight.  It isn’t always about the teeth-rotting romance. I like to see something else from the characters, secondary players, included, but when the romance ramped up, the other issues were pushed to the back.

Make-up Esteem. I am split in the middle on the subject of makeup. At first, it appeared that the writer was trying to villainize the use of cosmetics. On one hand, I agree that Eleanor didn’t have to use make up to make herself more appeasing to Park’s girlish mother. However, it was an attempt for the two to bond. She was trying to help a girl try something new and different. I often have this own war in my head, and just like myself, the book seemed divided and wish-washy regarding the entire reference.

Girl  issues. I never could connect with Eleanor, and I really tried. She just seemed so cruel and mean at times. Maybe I saw her making mistakes I have made in the past, or maybe I was just tired of her coy attitude just for the sake of tension, but it got old, and fast.

Nerdy references galore. Comic books, mixed tapes and a Walkman? I am a sucker for all three.




Not a bad book, but not what I was expecting. The first part of the book pulled me in, but the second part made me rush so that I could be done and over it. There was a lot of wasted potiental here, and some subjects that I found interested tended to take a back seat to the forced romance. This one came in like a lion and left like a lamb. There were some heavy hitting themes in the novel, which made the book worthwhile to read.

4 responses to “Book Review: Eleanor & Park

  1. I understand exactly what you are saying, about how the real issues seemed to take a backseat to the romance and I was hoping that the abuse would be explored a little more but I did really like this book, the ending was a bit “WHAT THATS IT?!” and i wanted more

    I did find myself going “just do it its not going to hurt you” when parks mum wantde to put makeup on her though, but that might be because I do wear makeup (not much though)

    I dunno, I quite loved this book even with the faults it has I still enjoyed reading it a lot!
    Becky recently posted…Top Ten Authors I’ve only read one book from but NEED to read more.My Profile

  2. You almost had me there. Shame it didn’t pan out. 🙂 Fanart, though. I swear sometimes I have to recheck myself about books I hated when I see fanart because I think-how could I have hatred for something that someone else is so passionate about? But I suppose it says more about the capacity of readers.
    Stuti recently posted…September Books’ Reviews: Part 3My Profile

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