Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Release Date: February 26, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Rated: YA 14+
Format: Hardcover
Source: Borrowed
Buy: AmazonThe Book Depository

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 in 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.

There are thousands – and I mean thousands – of young adult contemporaries out there. Many possess unique qualities, some are clichéd, but every once in a while there comes along a book that just makes you go wowEleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell was so raw and beautiful. I devoured every word, I poured over the pages and held onto this book, clinging on to it's riveting story.
I'd of course heard of this novel before deciding to finally sit down and read it. I've seen fan art of Eleanor and Park on Tumblr, I've heard people raving about it endlessly. My sister borrowed the book from the library and refused to let me read it, so then, and only then, did I finally go and check out a copy to read... a decision which I'm glad I made.

Regarding Eleanor's character, while I couldn't exactly relate to her fashion sense, I could relate to her through her physical appearance, with her issues with her body. There are times in the book when Eleanor feels like she needs to hide her body from Park, because she's too "big". I really felt a connection with this because I sometimes feel like that too, standing out sometimes because of body shape. It's awful and I could absolutely empathize with her character. I also found her views and opinions very interesting, particularly her thoughts on the X-Men female characters. I enjoyed reading her narrative and think she's a really strong character.
Park was really sweet. I loved him and his narration so much. It was an interesting, diverse choice with his character as he's half-Korean. I liked that I was able to visualize what he would look like. Rowell's writing is amazing that way and her descriptions really make it easy to picture the characters, events and setting in the book.
Of course you've got to read the book to know why, but I loved the supporting characters, especially Park's family and more or less (because they didn't too much of an appearance) Eleanor's siblings. I just wish there had been more development of Cal, DeNice and Beebi's characters. As friends to main characters, they took the back seat completely. Even the mean girl, Tina and her boyfriend Steve weren't mentioned that much. I felt that at times the book completely isolated Eleanor and Park, and we didn't get the chance to discover some of the great secondary characters in this novel.

It was an intriguing time period choice. It's not too far back, but in YA we tend to not find that many books set so "far" back in the past. However, with the music references, I didn't know a lot of them. I'd heard of the bands and singers, but no idea about the songs that Eleanor and Park discuss. I got the comic book references – I've seen the X-Men movies, but haven't read any comics other than that. It was weird because sometimes, I would have to catch myself because I would automatically assume that it was set in the present and then get thrown-off when something from the 80's is present, and there wasn't a trace of the technology from this century.
I liked the switch in perspectives. The third person narrative was an interesting touch, but of course with the focalization of Eleanor and Park, we got to learn more about them, despite being told in this particular POV. This I feel was what made it easier to connect with their characters because the perspectives were depicted in a continuous flow of events and showed both sides of the story.

Eleanor & Park was sweet– a gorgeous coming of age story about understanding oneself and discovering love. Rainbow Rowell is a new favorite of mine, and I can't wait to dive into another one of her masterpieces.

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  1. So glad you enjoyed it! E&P (and Rainbow in general) is one of our faves!

  2. I've heard so many great things about this book, but when I tried reading it, I just couldn't get into it. I'm going to try again, though, and hopefully, I'll fall in love with it the way so many other people have.


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