Monday, 28 July 2014

Review: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Title: Eleanor and Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Cover Artist: Debbie Powell
Publisher: Orion Publishing
Release Date: April 12th 2012
Genre: Contemporary YA fiction
Page Count: 336
Original Language: English
Format Read: Paperback
Other books in series: N/A
Movie Adaptation: In progress

Where you can buy it: Amazon, The Book Depository, Waterstones, Ebay, Barnes and Noble

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I read Eleanor and Park quite a while back and I am really looking forward to this review. I had quickly scribbled down my thoughts at the time and they all seem to make some sort of sense, so let's see how this goes. 


Eleanor is the new girl in town, and with her chaotic family life, her mismatched clothes and unruly red hair, she couldn't stick out more if she tried. Park is the boy at the back of the bus. Black T-shirts, headphones, head in a book - he thinks he's made himself invisible. But not to Eleanor... never to Eleanor. 

Slowly, steadily, through late-night conversations and an ever-growing stack of mix tapes, Eleanor and Park fall for each other. They fall in love the way you do the first time, when you're young, and you feel as if you have nothing and everything to lose. 

The first page:

*Spoiler alert - this review assumes you are slightly familiar with the story* 

This is set in the 1980's when all the way through it felt like a more 90's to modern day novel. I love the attempt to set it in this era but there could have been more specific details that would lead me to believe it was really from the 80's. This is, of course, the most minor of faults in my eyes, because the book still effected me like it should. I had to get this out of the way before I listed heaps of things I loved about it. 

I was going to give Eleanor and Park three stars, but as the book says, art is not supposed to be beautiful. It is supposed to make you feel something. And even though the ending wasn't as I would have hoped for or dare say wanted, it made me feel a lot. This is something that a book hasn't done for a while. And the very fact that I couldn't put it down for two days straight says a lot, because I have the patience of a saint. 

The storyline was very realistic (for once!). I think that was my favourite part of the book. I love how the main characters themselves clearly had flaws, whether it be physical or personality-wise. I think if Eleanor had been a perfectly skinny girl or a stereotypically cute geeky girl that all the boys lusted over, this story wouldn't have worked. I adored the character flaws, which is something I don't often say.

It could happen, what happens. It is all very close to home stuff yet it provides a sense of escapism where you find yourself saying "god I'm so glad not to be in that situation". You feel so much more appreciative of your life whilst reading it, which is endearing to feel. Then, you come out of the book thinking exactly the same thing, and it stays with you. If anyone feels like they're being unappreciative of the world around them, this is the book to read to cure them. 

I particularly loved Park's obsession with eyeliner. It showed how gendered products are flawed and there were even topics like this covered in the 80's . It was a character quirk that I thought brought something meaningful to the book as it caused problems in the house and some people would have found comfort in his story.

The letter section at the end wound me up. If they loved each other so much then why would they make it so difficult for themselves? But it made me feel something, and it wasn't unbearable to read. In fact, it kept me excited for their romance and left me hoping it all worked out in the end.

Also I'm guessing her mother got out of the relationship, or her kids were taken by social services. Probably the latter if Richie was still roaming about and not in jail.

The only thing I didn't like about their whole relationship was the "I need you" parts. They relied on each other so much that they couldn't function without each other, and I think it was an unhealthy relationship in this respect. It would be understandable for Eleanor maybe, but not for Park. It teaches bad relationship lessons, I think. However, it still played a purpose in the book - my thoughts on this were that it may have been included to mirror her mother's need for Richie, or vice versa.

Overall, it was a gripping book that I refused to put down for a couple of days, so I'm going to give Eleanor and Park 4/5 cups of British tea.

About the author:

Rainbow Rowell writes books. Sometimes she writes about adults (Attachments and Landline). Sometimes she writes about teenagers (Eleanor & Park and Fangirl).
But she always writes about people who talk a lot. And people who feel like they’re screwing up. And people who fall in love.
When she’s not writing, Rainbow is reading comic books, planning Disney World trips and arguing about things that don’t really matter in the big scheme of things.
She lives in Nebraska with her husband and two sons.

Where to find Rainbow Rowell: Twitter, Tumblr, Goodreads, Blog 

1 comment:

  1. Great review! I completely agree with your thoughts on the book!


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