Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Release Date: February 26th, 2013
St. Martin’s Press, 325 Pages
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