Saturday, March 2, 2013

Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Tags: YA, 1980s, romance


"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 from Goodreads]


ELEANOR & PARK is not the witty and light-hearted read that I had expected it to be. Instead, it has trouble deciding whether it wants to be a charming romance or darker exploration into messed-up families. Either one would’ve worked for me, but straddling the two made for what was ultimately an unsatisfying read for me.

Don’t get me wrong: I enjoyed watching Park and Eleanor’s interactions unfold. They’re an unexpected couple, and it was fun to watch them slowly begin to open up to one another. However, I wasn’t convinced that Park and Eleanor’s relationship endured realistically in their world. I ended up being more interested in Park and Eleanor’s relationships with their families than their relationship with one another, and felt that one world seemed to always be intruding on the other, in terms of my understanding of each. After a while, I began to be more interested in reading about their interactions with their families, with the result that I felt confused about what the book wanted us to focus our attentions and interests on: the romance that initially sold the book, or the deeper but never thoroughly explored familial relationships that intrigued me more.

ELEANOR & PARK was, for me, a temporarily touching but ultimately forgettable love story where the heavy-handed emphasis on romance crushed the subjectively more interesting aspects of the characters’ lives, namely their relationships with their families.

Similar Authors
Gayle Forman
Jandy Nelson

Cover discussion: I love it! Its simple color scheme and layout make it just a little different from all the other covers currently on the market to stand out.

 St. Martin's Griffin / Feb. 26, 2013 / Hardcover / 320pp. / $18.99

e-galley provided from publisher and NetGalley.


  1. Have you read Rowell's ATTACHMENTS? I felt the same way about it. So uneven and ultimately forgettable.

    1. I've read the Kindle sample. It's still on my Kindle: I can't decide if I'm intrigued enough to buy the full novel. I kind of want to borrow it from the library and see how I feel, reading a bit more. But I have a feeling that I might feel the same way as you.

  2. I would recommend reading Attachments. I'm sad to hear this but want to try it to compare with debut.

    1. Cool, I've definitely been curious about Attachments and will look it up when I have access to a library. :)

  3. I appreciate your alternate perspective on this-I loved E&P and absolutely gushed about it but I know that it can't work for everyone.

  4. I just read a really positive review of Attachments, which is adult romance. It's interesting that this author has crossed over to YA romance. It looks like her third book, Fangirl, is YA or New Adult. I should read one of her books.

  5. I actually enjoyed Eleanor & Park a lot! I liked that it wove in their individual stories with their romance, and I guess it really just worked for me. I'm curious about her other book though, as I've heard that's pretty good too.

    I completely agree that her cover is gorgeous :)


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