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An Absolute Must-Read | Book Review: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

I highly recommend Eleanor and Park! It’s one of the best books I’ve read in 2014 so far.

Book Review: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

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eleanor and park by rainbow rowell book review

Title & Author: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary, Coming of Age

Release Date: February 26, 2013

Series: Standalone

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

How I Got the Book: Bought – Book Club Pick


“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.”

Heart-Breaking High School Coming of Age Tale

If you’d like to check out my book discussion questions for Eleanor and Park, just click HERE. I use all caps a bit, but overall I ask real, hard-hitting questions.

Confession: I had a strange mental block against Eleanor and Park. I’d heard it was good, but I’m a YA fantasy girl, so I was like “ohhh contemporary. sure i’ll read that next…year.” I know, it was rude. But fortunately I left off that last bit when talking to bloggers on Twitter. (But now you know).

Please, don’t be like me. READ THIS BOOK AS SOON AS POSSIBLE if you haven’t already. It is well-written, emotional, beautiful and touching. It’s how I felt after I read The Fault in Our Stars.

This book isn’t as heart-breaking as TFiOS, but it will most certainly tug on your feels. Cuz high school emotions and insecurities and hormones.

There is magic in the pages of Eleanor and Park. It’s a book that deals with some very serious issues without feeling depressing or heavy. It definitely doesn’t minimize the problems, but instead presents them in a way that a typical teenager would handle and cope with them.

There were so many moments where my heart just melted:

Park didn’t say anything He just held his comics open wider and turned the pages more slowly.

You won’t know why that is particularly melty until you read the book, but I promise you, you will smile once you get it.

What makes books like this great is that it shows the true scope of being in love for the first time while including all of the improbabilities and challenges along with it. The book doesn’t idealize romance but shows it in a authentic and realistic form.

For example, Eleanor is from a poor family, and she’s just started a new school year with kids she doesn’t know. To top it all off, she dresses unflatteringly and boyishly, has bright red hair and is overweight. These are all things that would prevent her from making friends and fitting in.

She does NOT in fact fall in love at first sight. The person she does have a connection with doesn’t really like her at first and ignores her. It takes a long time for them to even say hello because of mutual first impressions, prejudices and social standings.

See, not a very “romancy” type of love.

What Brings Us Together

One of my favorite things about Eleanor and Park is that what brings our two main characters together is music and comics. Music and words are the two things I think can connect any two random people. They are like the five degrees of separation for humanity.

Go to Rainbow Rowell’s blog HERE to check out her iTunes and Spotify playlists. They are LEGIT. Because this book is set in 1986, there are some true 80s gems featured.

Oh, and can I just say that holding hands has even seemed more sweet and tender than after reading this book?!

This book has made me want to read EVERYTHING by Rainbow Rowell. I’ve heard more great things about Fangirl, so I will be tackling that one very soon as well.

This author has a true talent for making readers feel something, and I can’t wait to see what else she comes up with.


There is everything to love about this book. It’s bittersweet and romantic and gut-wrenching and stunning. Everyone needs to read this book!! THAT MEANS YOU!! Go out and read Eleanor and Park as soon as humanly possible.

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.
  • Beverly

    This was my first book by Rainbow Rowell and I absolutely adored it! I got my hands on everything else she wrote – Attachments and Fangirl. You will not be disappointed!

    • I have Attachments downloaded! I will start on it ASAP. I’m so glad to hear her other work is just as fantastic as this!