Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

eleanor-and-parkEleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, published in 2013 by Orion.

Author. Goodreads. Amazon. Barnes & Noble. Book Depository.

Source: purchased.

Genre: contemporary (well, 1980s) YA.

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. (Goodreads)


My rating: 4.5/5.

This book is one of my 2014 favourites. I’ve had it on my bookshelf for a year, I think, and I never got around to it, but I’m really glad I did now. It’s been a month or two since I’ve finished it and I’m only writing this review now, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot, in everyday situations. It’s one of those books that gets under your skin.

This was my first Rainbow Rowell novel – I’ve been reading about her a lot and I decided to give her a try despite the fact that I don’t often read outside my preferred genres of fantasy and romance anymore, but I’m really trying to change that.

I would have given it a 5/5 rating, but I felt like the ending was somewhat vague. This is just about the only complaint I have to make about it. I’m already trying to make my husband read it. :) I only made one note when I was reading it: “It’s brutally honest and it’s scraping me raw.” (YAY for my own personal brand of vagueness!)

think what I meant was that this is a book that makes your insides clench in the best possible way. I adored Eleanor and I adored Park, their relationship progressed just slowly enough for me to fall in love with them as they fell in love with each other.

And man, do I miss the mix tapes. Or CDs (I started high school in 2002 so we’d progressed to digital by that time). I remember making quite a few and receiving some, too. Good times.

Read this book, people. And if you liked it, you might want to check out Ketchup Clouds – the topic is totally different but it has the same punch-in-the-gut effect that I love and fear at the same time.


Have you read this novel? What was your favourite part?

How about other Rowell books? Which one do I have to read next? :)

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  • I read this book a while back and enjoyed it, but always I could think is that it wasn’t Fangirl, that book was one of my favourite reads and I kept comparing Eleanor & Park even though they were totally different books. It was good though, and it was enjoyable, I think I just needed to forget Rainbow Rowell wrote it I think and I would have enjoyed it more. I will check out your book recommendation though, that’s a great idea for reviews because I’m always on the look out for a new book to read, even when I don’t need one.

    • Kaja

      I have Fangirl on my list and I’m afraid of reading it. I’ve seen SO MANY different reviews for Rowell’s books that I can’t form an opinion. I don’t know, I guess she writes books that are really different from each other so her fans never know what to expect.
      E&P is being translated into Slovenian now, so that’s great :)

  • Eleanor and Park is one of the very few contemporaries I’ve read in recent years. One of the teens who regularly comes to my library kept suggesting it so I knew it’d be good but…damn. I was an emotional WRECK after reading this one! I definitely know what you mean when you said it scraped you raw. I think part of why it hit me so hard was seeing how difficult it was for Eleanor and Park to be together in an interracial relationship – because my guy is Korean and I’m white, and it was so mind boggling to me that as recently as the ’80s people were so hostile to interracial couples.

    I will definitely be reading more by Rainbow Rowell!

    • Kaja

      I kind of think this would still be the case in Slovenia – not that overt, perhaps, but still. There aren’t that many interracial relationships here because most of the immigrants are still from the former Yugoslav republics. I mean, the younger generations are obviously more open and everything but there are just not that many people of other races here. I mean, I’m not even sure what counts as politically correct when discussing lit like this. It’s embarrassing, really, but unless you specifically devote yourself to studying this, you don’t really come into contact with non-European or non-Balkan cultures.

      This is one of the things I like best about travelling, meeting societies that are so multicultural that people don’t even blink when they hear another language spoken on the street or see skin of a different colour than theirs. Slovenia is very, very small in this regard (not just geographically, but mentally). Our fellow countrymen are also stubborn homophobes (in general – a recent referendum confirmed this officially) and this is one of the topmost reasons my husband and I are debating moving away from here to work elsewhere… Maybe someday.