Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell 
Release Date: February 26, 2013 
Publisher: St. Martin's Press  
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance,  
SourceARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
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 16.
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, this 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.

A long time ago I read Rainbow Rowell's Attachments and I was blown away. I loved the romance. I adored the characters. I talked it up to just about anyone who would listen. 

Recently, I had no clue what book I wanted to start next. Nothing was drawing me in, and I could feel a book slump beginning - one of my worst reading related nightmares. Then I stumbled upon Eleanor & Park, a book that had been setting on my TBR for far too long. I knew many people had loved it and I had loved Attachments so I figured why not. I'd read the first chapter and see how it went. 

Six hours later and all I can say is WOW....Eleanor & Park is a spectacular novel. It's one of those can't-stop-won't-stop-I-NEED-to-know-how-it-ends kind of books, which are my favorite kind. 

While Eleanor & Park fell in love with each other, I fell in love with their characters. Out of the two, I think Eleanor was my favorite. She's one of a kind. She's independent, brave and caring. She has a spark to her that makes her easy to love. I could easily relate to her struggles over weight. Additionally, my heart broke for her time and time again. Her family situation was horrific, and I wanted nothing more for her to have a happy home and not always be so terrified of what came next. Parker, on the other hand, is quiet yet kind. When the story first begins, Parker is terrified of making a scene - he wants nothing more to blend into the background. I could understand that; however, as the book continued and his relationship with Eleanor developed, a new side of Parker came about. He became fearless and willing to stand up for those he cared the most about no matter what. The scenes with his parents especially warmed my heart - seriously his parents are amazing! - and I loved that he convinced them to take a chance on Eleanor. 

At its heart Eleanor & Park is about love - first loves to be exact. 

Over the course of the story, Eleanor & Park fall in love. It's a sudden, unexpected, and messy. More importantly, however, it's an all-consuming kind of love - the type that makes one reckless and willing to risk everything and anything. I adored seeing their relationship evolve. They had fantastic chemistry. Their banter had me swooning as well as laughing. Better yet, I loved how they inspired each other to be better, to ask for more, to want more. Additionally, I appreciated that it wasn't always sunshines and rainbows; instead, sometimes storms - big and large - rolled in. It gave a realistic, raw feeling to the narrative - one that made my heart soar as well as sink time after time. 

Last but not least: the ending. Throughout the story, I prepared myself for the worst while hoping for the best. There were many ways I could see this ending, and I was well aware it could either be happy or sad. What Rainbow provided was a mixture of both. It was bittersweet and open-ended yet hopeful. One thing is for sure, though, I'll be thinking about it sometime. 

In all, Eleanor & Park is fantastic! I can't suggest it highly enough. Now on to Rainbow's other backlist titles...I have some major catching up to do. 

5 stars!!


  1. I've only read two books by Rainbow Rowell and have loved them both. This one sounds really lovely as well. I'm glad you enjoyed it, Lauren. I need to get myself a copy!

  2. I read this book years ago, and then I went out and bought all of Rainbow Rowell’s books. I love them all. Great review!

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

  3. I read all RR's books except for Carry On. My favorites are her adult books, but this was a very good book. I really liked the friendship that developed between Eleanor and Park, which eventually led to more, and I was happy Eleanor had some positive things in her life due to this friendship. The ending was happy, but I needed to know what the card said.


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