Sash: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell – BOOK REVIEW

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Release Date: February 26th, 2013
St. Martin’s Press, 325 Pages
Sub-genre: Contemporary
Source: Bought the Audiobook
Age Group: Young Adult
Featured Shelves: Audiobook, Everyone Loved But Me

“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.

Oh, my – how do I begin? Well, first, let me say that I haven’t read a YA book in a while. I’m climbing the bookish equivalent of Mount Everest this year – aka making my way through the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin and it is brutal. So maybe I went into this book not sure what to expect? I don’t know what happened. I had hopes of romance and swooning and first love a la Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, but that’s not what I got. Instead I got this amazing boy whom I adored and a girl that annoyed me.

The description says that you’ll remember your own first love, and while it did have moments that reminded me of what it’s like to fall in love for the first time, I just couldn’t connect with Eleanor. Was she in a bad situation? Yes, but in times like those, you either let it make you or break you and I feel like she let it break her. Again, yes, she’s 16 and “helpless” but all I’m saying is that 16 is old enough to call the police and not give a second thought to “Oh, is my mom going to be mad that I’m doing something that she as 40 something year old can’t?”

The saving grace for me in this book is Park – not only the character but his POV (the book is alternating POVs). Without Park, this book would have probably been a Did Not Finish. Park – my sweet, sweet boy – WHY do you even like Eleanor? She pushes you away, is an emotional rollercoaster and disaster, and has got to be the most self-deprecating  character I’ve read in a while – she puts Edward Cullen from Twilight to shame.

And speaking of favorite characters, I’ve got to say my overall favorite character (and the one I think is most like me) was Park’s mom. She’s an Avon lady who loves makeup, nails, and hair – AND she always wants to make other people over.

I will say that I really enjoyed Rainbow Rowell’s writing style and I’m reading her next book, Fangirl, right now and absolutely loving it. So it’s just this particular book that didn’t do it for me. Also, the narrator for Eleanor on the audiobook was not the best so that probably played into things a bit.

I put this book on my Everyone Loved But Me shelf as there are no less than TWENTY 5 star reviews from my friends on GoodReads. Maybe I’m the misfit in this story.

What those who enjoyed it are saying:

  • “I highly recommend Eleanor & Park to anyone who loves contemp YA with a lot of grit and emotion.” – Tara from Fiction Folio
  • “The recommendations all over the Internet for ELEANOR & PARK are completely warranted.” -Shanyn from Chick Loves Lit
  • “I tried to write a review, but it was just so fangirly, I had to calm myself down.” -Anna from Anna Reads
  • June 3, 2013 - 9:53 am

    Shanyn - Awwww. Well, since you liked Rowell’s writing style I’m pretty confident you will love all of FANGIRL (you may have even finished by now)! I think I even like FANGIRL more than E&P :)ReplyCancel

  • June 3, 2013 - 11:51 am

    Estelle - I know we talked about this on Saturday night, and I do understand your frustration but I think for me I was like… just go with it.

    I loved Park and Eleanor getting to know each other with their quiet moments, and man, the bullying made me so sad. Why are girls such shitheads to each other in gym class? :( It brought back terrible memories.

    CAN’T WAIT TO READ FANGIRL. LOVE RAINBOW’S VOICE. I am talking in Caps and will go now. ;)ReplyCancel

  • June 3, 2013 - 2:37 pm

    Sash and Em - Shanyn, Yes! I’m pretty sure I’m going to LOVE Fangirl! :)

    Estelle, I did like Eleanor and Park’s quiet moments – showed a real side of relationships that a lot of books forget about or don’t think is important, but it’s in *those* moments that relationships truly form. And as to why girls are so mean in gymclass – well, little girls are just so mean sometimes. ugh. Also, I would totally rock a gymsuit – it’s like a romper! hahahaReplyCancel

  • June 3, 2013 - 5:51 pm

    YA Book Queen - Park sounds like a sweetheart! Eleanor seems a bit frustrating, though. I’m not overly fond of characters that act like they’re helpless.

    Thanks for the honest review!ReplyCancel

  • June 5, 2013 - 4:23 pm

    Lisa @ Lost in Literature - Awwww… sorry to hear you didn’t love this one. I did… it was an easy 5 star for me. I actually listened to it on audiobook, and maybe that was the difference? Hearing the narrators really made me FEEL the story. It was so powerful to me. Can’t love them all though, right? :) Thanks for the honest review!ReplyCancel

  • June 9, 2013 - 12:00 am

    Weekly Wrap Up » Sash and Em: A Tale of Two Bookies - […] Sash read and reviewed Eleanor & Park but just didn’t love it like everyone else did – she enjoyed the writing though! […]ReplyCancel

  • June 14, 2013 - 10:12 am

    Alexa Y. - I really liked Eleanor & Park! I read it way before it’s release, but thought it was cute. It wasn’t necessarily a five star read for me, but I liked the love story, as it reminded me of my own love story ;)ReplyCancel

  • September 12, 2013 - 12:00 am

    Sash: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell - REVIEW - […] the actual content of her books just don’t jive with me (so far!). It happened with Eleanor & Park and now again with Fangirl. While my issues with Eleanor & Park were mostly character-based […]ReplyCancel

  • September 12, 2013 - 11:19 am

    Sash: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell - BOOK REVIEW - […] the actual content of her books just don’t jive with me (so far!). It happened with Eleanor & Park and now again with Fangirl. While my issues with Eleanor & Park were mostly character-based […]ReplyCancel

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