March 21, 2014

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

She was late to lunch, then late to English. And if she didn't know already that she liked that stupid, effing Asian kid, she knew it now. / Because even after everything that had happened in the last forty-five minutes- and everything that had happened in the last twenty-four hours- all Eleanor could think about was seeing Park.
-from Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
 photo 15745753_zps1b007b4b.jpg
Rainbow Rowell's extraordinarily popular novel Eleanor and Park is a nerdy love story about awkward and hopefully hopeless first love. Set over a school year in 1986, Eleanor is the weird (and poor) new girl. Park is the only Asian kid in their small town, but other than that he's an average comic-book and rock-music loving teenage boy. When Park begrudgingly allows Eleanor to sit next to him on the bus, neither of them have any idea that it's the beginning of a first love that will change them forever.

Let me tell you, I was wrecked over rating and reviewing this book! I am hovering between 4-stars and 5-stars in the best/worst way! I decided to lean toward 5-stars for a few reasons. For one, Rainbow Rowell's writing is above and beyond wonderful. She is able to articulate all the feelings of first love whether the readers experienced one like Eleanor and Park or not. Similarly, I enjoyed the parallels of Park's struggle with his identity within his family alongside Eleanor's struggle for identity amongst her family in very different ways. Where Park's greatest concern is how to get his driver's license, Eleanor's is how to take a shower in a bathroom without a door under the same house as her abusive step-father. Both characters are so different yet meld together in a way only acceptable for young love.

However, their love story is also a huge problem I had with this book: it happened too hard and too fast. And maybe that was the point: that with first love as a teenager there is absolutely no way to articulate why two people can jump into a can't-live-a-day-without-you relationship so quickly (other than maybe hormones). But this sudden head-over-heels love fest was irritating initially (then again, aren't all sixteen year old relationships at least mildly irritating?). I found myself wondering, "What is the point of all this?", especially toward the end when the action picked up and then the book ended.

With the story-within-a-story references to Romeo and Juliet, I guess the point of this novel is that first love is unique and nonsensical, awkward and obsessive, definitely one-of-a-kind. It provides hope for your own identity, usually during a period of your life that feels hopeless (whether dramatically so [Park] or seriously problematic [Eleanor]). So, while this book increased it's speed somewhat abruptly, I think it's still an important conversation about the first love that saves you, physically and/or emotionally.

Bottom Line: I agree with many 2013 polls that this book is a YA must-read. Just be forewarned at the quick escalation of love! ;) 4.5/5 Stars.


  1. it sounds interesting though. and maybe, yes, that's what first love like actually. haha.
    i also love the book cover illustration!

    btw, have you ever watched Flipped??? you MUST. it's one of my favorite movie ever! the story is about junior high students - Julie and Bryce. how to be in love is in the eyes of pre-teen. it's so refereshing and not over dramatized. so must watch movie.

  2. I haven't read this yet, but I want to. I love that it's set in the 80's... how fun is that?? But I'm not the biggest fan of obsessive love :( But I love Rainbow Rowell too much not to read this one... I'm just not expecting to like it as much as Fangirl.


Thank you so much for reading my blog! If you leave a comment I will try my best to email you back directly and visit your blog, too! If I can't find a way to get back to you, check back for a reply to your comment. Thanks again and happy reading!!