Sunday, March 3, 2013

Review: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Title: Eleanor & Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Genre: YA Fiction/Romance
Rating: 5/5

Part of me doesn’t even want to review Eleanor and Park. I know nothing that I type will ever express how meaningful and beautiful this book is, but it deserves to be reviewed. Even if no one even reads this.

Eleanor meets Park on her first day of her new school on the bus, where he offers her the seat beside him. Right from the start, the other student’s don’t like her. Eleanor is big. Eleanor has thick bright curly red hair. Eleanor wears men’s shirts and scarves tied around her wrist and weird things in her hair. First, Eleanor and Park don’t talk. At all. Very slowly, a connection forms between them through their love of comics, mutual disrespect for the idiots on their bus, and their love of great music. Their relationship is unlike any other.

“As soon as he said it, she broke into a smile. And when Eleanor smiled, something broke inside him. Something always did.”

Eleanor comes from a broken family. She has an abusive stepfather, a mother who is too afraid to challenge him, and little brothers and sisters who are caught in the crossfire. Eleanor’s life isn’t easy, and from the moment Eleanor was introduced, I just wanted to cry. And I did, throughout most of the book.

Eleanor and Park is an emotional, touching book. Personally, it touched a nerve with me because I felt like I understood her. My family is relatively normal, but I know what it is like to be an outsider. To be made fun of because of being overweight. Eleanor felt like she was not worthy of someone loving her, of someone wanting her.  And I get that; I understand that more than I want to. I felt like this Eleanor and I were just two birds of a feather. Eleanor wanted to be different, and she made sure she was. That didn’t mean it didn’t hurt any less.

Park is not like any other male character I’ve read about. The one word that describes Park? Sweet. Park is the sweetest male character I’ve ever met. Park is an outsider and not at the same time. He is Asian and quiet. Wears black a lot. He’s different from the rest of the students, but he is a part of them, also. He comes from a loving family, making the gap between Eleanor and him even wider. 

“Nothing was dirty. With Park. Nothing could be shameful.
Because Park was the sun, and that was the only way Eleanor could think to explain it.”

Eleanor and Park’s relationship is very special to me. They’re so cautious. Eleanor has a hard time opening up; she doesn’t trust easily. Eleanor is temperamental and sarcastic, which sometimes takes their relationship back a step. In a way though, it’s just them. The way they are with each other.  It makes Eleanor and Park, Eleanor and Park.

The ending. Oh, god. What can I even say about the ending? It was around three o’clock in the morning when I finished this book, and to say that I was a bundle of emotions was an understatement. The ending is realistic…. but the author definitely adds more confusion than needed. I’m not sure confusion is the right word. Lets just say that the author definitely rubs it in your face that she is the only one writing the ending.

Eleanor and Park is a love story, but it’s much more than that. It is about life. It is about a side of life that many people don’t like to acknowledge. The writing in Eleanor and Park makes your heart break. It breaks it and then the author sews it back up, and then she breaks it again into a tiny more million little pieces. It’s raw. It doesn’t hide behind the YA label; it puts everything out in the open and lets you deal with the cruelty of the world.  It doesn’t shelter you from it. This book takes your breath away, and while you’re trying to catch it, it takes it away again.


  1. I haven't heard of this one until now and I can't believe I haven't, it sounds amazing.
    I love that it's so much more than just a love story and that there's a realistic ending.
    Your review is so beautifully written too!
    Thank you!

    1. Thank you SO much! :) Definitely check it out. This book is so beautiful- one of my all time favorites now!

  2. I've never heard of this and this is such a beautiful review that I can't wait to go and scoop it up. It sounds amazing. Thank you!

    Thank you for following my blog :)

    Christyn @ The Book Cafe

    1. Thank you so much :) I hope you like it as much as I did!

  3. Oh, I love your review, and I can see how their relationship is more than love. Those are my favorite kinds and I just bought this book. I'm really looking forward to reading it. Thanks!

    1. You're welcome! And thank you :) I hope you enjoy it!