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Monday, June 9, 2014

Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

4 out of 5 Stars

Eleanor and Park was my first book by Rainbow Rowell and certainly won't be my last.

This was a charming book about two teens in Omaha Nebraska, in 1986, who don't quite fit in but find an unlikely friendship and love in each other.

Eleanor, the red-haired, freckled, slightly overweight new girl, who dresses in shirts and ties and even a necktie/scarf around her wrist as a wristband, finds an empty seat next to Park on the school bus.

Park is a Korean-Irish American who loves comic books and listening to his walkman, and he reluctantly lets Eleanor sit next to him. Park is "beautiful" with his green eyes and "skin the color of sunshine through honey".

I loved that Eleanor was chubby and beautiful in her own way and did not fit society's usual concept of beauty. Having been the chubby girl, myself, I completely related to Eleanor and her body issues. I felt with her through the bullying and her difficult home situation.

I loved how Park opens "his seat", his comic book, then his music and his heart to Eleanor.

There was no love-at-first sight here, but their relationship starts with some awkward sitting next to each other, sharing of comic books and music, and develops into something beautiful. I appreciated the realistic way that Rainbow Rowell developed the growing feelings between Eleanor and Park.

This character-driven story was told deftly by Ms Rowell in Eleanor and Park's alternate third-person point-of-views, with their distinctive "voices". I loved both these characters.

The book deals with issues of race, bullying, body image and domestic violence.

I loved the 1980's setting and it made me very nostalgic, especially for putting together mix-tape cassettes. :-)

This was a charming, sweet, heart-touching and heart-breaking story.

The ending felt abrupt, to me, and is the reason I'm giving this 4-stars. I just needed MORE. But still... what a wonderful read!

Thank you to my friends Jenn "Awww ...Yeaaahhh", AHenry and Viola for the recommendation!

Lovely Fan Art by IzziBelle on DeviantArt

Some of my favorite quotes:


"If Park were to look up at her now, he'd know everything.

He didn't look up. He wound the scarf around his fingers until her hand was hanging in the space between them.

Then he slid the silk and his fingers into her open palm.

And Eleanor disintegrated."


"Holding Eleanor's hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like holding something complete, and completely alive.

As soon as he touched her, he wondered how he'd gone this long without doing it. He rubbed his thumb through her palm and up her fingers, and was aware of her every breath."

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