Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Rainbow Rowell has been slaying, and Eleanor & Park is no different. Just beautiful. Rating: 4.5/5

*This is book #13/28 for my 2014 book challenge. You can take a look at the reading challenge here.

Eleanor & Park book cover

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.

When I I finished this book, I was dumbfounded. Tears were running down my face and I was flipping through the last pages looking for something I was hoping I had missed. “THIS CANNOT BE THE END”. I think I actually screamed it out loud. I remember my dog jumping. I also remember thinking, “Who does she think she is? Van Houten? JOHN GREEN MADE HIM UP, RAINBOW!!” I was that angry, but I am no longer angry. It just took some time to cool off to realize that the ending was really great, but to explain that, I need to explain some other things.

For one, I was a little disappointed at first because I hate dual perspective. I hate it so much, and every damn time I read a book with dual perspective I complain about how much I hate it. In fact, my first Goodreads update for Eleanor & Park was about how I was pissed about the dual perspectives. What was great, though, was how the dual perspectives were used. There were some moments when the perspective would change very quickly so that we could understand both characters in certain moments. Other times it took longer for each perspective to change, and each time it was calculated by Rainbow. She knew exactly what she was doing, and I was impressed.

I liked that while the main plot was first love and the shit that comes along with it, there was a very deep underlying sub-plot in the form of an abusive household. While Eleanor pissed me off very often, I couldn’t help but ache for her because of her home life. I couldn’t help but get so angry because of the world her and her siblings had to live in.

Then there’s the love part of the book. I normally hate cheesy stories about falling in love, and while this had its cheesy moments, it was so damn realistic. When I was reading I stopped to make the following Goodreads update:

It reminds me of what it’s like to be young and stupid and in love. Or at least to think you’re in love. It’s the same conversations I had with boys that I thought were everything. It’s a strange yet wonderful thing. It’s reminiscent and nostalgic and also embarrassing. I like it a lot.

And it was. It was so reminiscent of being a teenager and the things we all went through and probably wished that we could forget. But we haven’t forgotten, because you never really do. And neither will Eleanor & Park. Which you’ll need to read for yourself to understand the rest of it. Because that is why the ending ended up being perfect. Not only is there a way to pick it up again as a second volume, (oh please, oh please, do us the favor of writing a sequel!) but it also ends the way most things end when you’re young. And I can’t be mad about anything that an author is able to portray so realistically.

As a side note, I’ve read and reviewed one of Rainbow’s other novels, Fangirl, and it was amazing. I think she is working her way toward a spot on my favorite author list.

Ratingfour and a half star book review

If you’re interested in reading my GoodReads updates from this book you can do so here. I must say, they’re quite entertaining. It will tell you exactly what I was thinking on certain pages.

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