Book Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor & Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell


Eleanor & Park book description on Goodreads:

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.

I usually love to indulge in fantasy, but the blurb of this book grabbed my attention with a force greater than gravity itself.

Published in 2013, this is author Rainbow Rowell’s first Young Adult Fiction (or so I have read on the web), and it has been dominating Goodreads with a rating of 4.22 from more than thirty-seven thousand avid readers spread across the world . This book is also a winner of Goodreads Choice Awards, 2013; and Boston Glove-Horn Book Awards, 2013.

So what’s in this book that has generated such a great hype? As the blurb implies, it is a love story, but not quite what you usually find in your typical dose of romance stories. For a change, it does not have sparkly supernatural heartthrobs or kickass heroines for saving the world, rather the story revolves around two simple kids of sixteen years whose lives are weaved together by the fate, and later mutilated by the very impediments of this intimidating world.


Introducing Eleanor, a girl who comes from a troubled family with a stepfather—Richie— who would put world’s greatest villain to shame; a rather helpless mother, and a bunch of siblings who are more focused on ‘not’ pissing off their stepfather. Eleanor is, to be frank, fat and has a bunch of red, curly locks on herself, which earns her the nickname of ‘Big Red Head’ by school bullies after she returns to her hometown Omaha (Nebraska) one year after being kicked out of their house by Richie and having lived at a place of an acquaintance, where she was not much welcome as well.

Park Sheridan, the other protagonist, is a half-Korean boy who is quite popular with the folks at his school, but he loves to be submerged into his own world of comics and good music. The distance with friends and acquaintances is apparently created by his acknowledgement of coming from a diverse identity, and sometimes he is found struggling to be a part of the community without being sucked into the shallowness of those surrounding him.

The Plot

Eleanor and Park meet at their school bus, where she is pretty much forced into sitting beside Park. Initially Park goes with the flow and ignores Eleanor, but eventually a bond forms between them which if forged by nothing other than the comics Park used to bring for reading. Eleanor’s thirst to take a peek into the world of fantasy and music encourages Park to share a bit of his own world with her, and the bond deepens without any of them getting a hint about it.

They fall deeply for each other, only to have the world standing against their love, the relationship that they took to be their whole life and the reason of their entire being. ‘Eleanor and Park’ ends with incidents that do not only break the heart, but also shows us a truer form of the world bound by customs and obstacles in which we live in.

My Thoughts

Although Rowell has a straightforward way of writing, she manages to deliver the most complex of human emotions with her simple choice of words. This book will undoubtedly take you to a walk down the memory lane, and you will find yourself relishing the small moments of your first love in the form of Eleanor or Park. This book is undoubtedly a must-read among the many released in 2013, and I guarantee that you will not be disappointed after reading it.

Rating: 5/5

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