July 1, 2013

Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Title: Eleanor & Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Release Date: February 26th 2013
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Page Count: 325
Source: Purchased
Rating: Nerdgasm to end all nerdgasms
"Bono met his wife in high school," Park says.
"So did Jerry Lee Lewis," Eleanor answers.
"I’m not kidding," he says.
"You should be," she says, "we’re sixteen."
"What about Romeo and Juliet?"
"Shallow, confused, then dead."
"I love you," Park says.
"Wherefore art thou," Eleanor answers.
"I’m not kidding," he says.
"You should be."

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.

[Summary Source: Goodreads]

Park is the token Asian kid, Eleanor is the heavyset, redheaded new kid. Park lets Eleanor sit next to him on the bus when no one else will, even though he doesn't really want to. One day Park notices Eleanor reading his comic book over his shoulder. The rest is history.

Let's break this down:

Can I tell you guys? The last 50 pages of this book? They were like a downhill slope for me. I basically lay down at the top of the hill and rolled all the way to the bottom in record time. Stopping was impossible - unthinkable even. Like, what does the word "stop" even mean to the last 50 pages of this book? Nothing. Reading Eleanor and Park's ending (nay - new beginning?) was the only thing that actually mattered to me LATELATELATE that night (seriously, it was like 2am and I had to be up early the next day).

But don't let that last paragraph fool you. The ending of this book wasn't even the best part. No. The whole thing was the best part.

I'll start with the nerdiness.

First of all, I FREAKING LOVE that Rainbow Rowell set her book in the time when Watchmen was first coming out in individual issues. I can't really explain why I love this nod to nerd-dom so much. It's just part of my nerd DNA. As is the love I feel regarding the other comics and nerdy references in this book. Mostly, I think my joy came from finding an author who gets my comic book loving side as well as my adorable, complicated, heartbreaking relationship loving side.

Because that's the kind of relationship Eleanor and Park have.

Nothing comes easy for these two. Eleanor's a complete mess, Park's worried about Eleanor, his "friends" and a bunch of other things. And all of this combined just makes me worry about the two of them like they're really people. But it's not just their individual situations that pull on my heartstrings (although, seriously Rainbow Rowell, who do you think you are right now?). No, it's the two of them together.

Like I said, the last 50 pages of this book are a tumble down a hill you cannot resist. But all of the pages before it were equally wonderful. Eleanor and Park come together so slowly and sweetly that you almost can't believe there's such thing as insta-love in the world. The whole thing is just so unintentional yet undeniable, stunning yet soft and quiet. Honestly, it's everything. Just everything. Which obviously doesn't make very much sense. Unless you've already read Eleanor & Park. Then it might make sense. Because, y'know, you've read it and have some kind of understanding of what I'm talking about.

The long and short of it?

Plot: So simple and understated but stunning none-the-less. Honestly, two outcasts? This story's been done before. But it hasn't. Not THIS story. Not Eleanor and Park's story.
World Building: I don't know much about racism or high school in the 80s. Or the area Eleanor and Park are from. But none of that really matters to me because the setting matters so much less than the context. Or, well, I guess the circumstances matter, but those seemed plausible to me, in any case.
Character Development: Eleanor is a totally different person at the end of the book - again, in a very plausible way. And Park. Well. Park turns into everything I think you knew he could be at the start of the book by the end and that's the very best, isn't it?
Prose: I squirm with delight whenever I flip through the pages of this book and read the words on the pages. I just don't have words for how much I love Rainbow Rowell's writing. So I'll let you translate my joyous squirming instead.
Would I Recommend This Book?: YES. Please with the yes. Especially if you're a big nerd and love when authors acknowledge your aforementioned nerdiness. But even if you just enjoy a book about issues or kissing. Because this book as both. So nerds, issues and kissing. Something for everyone. Which is why you have to read this one right now.

Were you guys impressed with the level of geekery in this book, or were you more interested in ELEANOR AND PARK, whether together or individually? Feel free to share your fan-personing (or lack of fan-personing) in the comments below!


  1. I'm with you. I totally loved this one and felt like it wasn't only a great book, but actually a realistic high school love story. The slow burn made the pay off all the more sweet. I have never wanted a standalone to be a series more in my whole life. I don't even need conflict in the next book, just more Eleanor and Park. :)

  2. My favorite thing about Eleanor & Park is their relationship. The way that it starts and grows and shifts mirrors exactly what falling in love for the first time meant to me - and I LOVED that. It helped me really connect with both characters, and just get all giddy over this book!

  3. Oh I LOVVVVEEEEE this book! I really want to read it again and again... The way everything just slowly unfolds and suddenly you realize "OMG I love them!" It's just absolutely unbelievable!

  4. Nerdgasm?!?! I am dyyyyyyying right now! Love this book and I agree about the comic book thing, while I never got into them myself (wish I had) I love all the shoutouts to being a geek. Nerds rule the world...just look at Bill Gates.

    Your doppleganger/sister Rainbow's writing is so brilliant in its simplicity. I just loved this story! Lovely review as always :)

  5. I love all things nerdy. And I've heard so much love for this book, I want to read it!!

  6. Whenever I see a review of E&P in my blog feed, and I mentally shout "Eleanor and Park!!!" because I loved this book so much and I want everyone to read it. Glad you liked it (how could you not). What you felt for the last 50 pages is what I felt like for the whole book. I started it, and couldn't stop. Definitely my favorite book this year so far.


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