Book Review: Eleanor & Park: A Novel by Rainbow Rowell

Overall rating: 4/5
Readability rating: 4/5
Character rating: 4/5
Plot rating: 3/5
Cover rating: 5/5
Would I recommend: Yes. If you love YA and angsty teen love then it’s perfect for you.

Goodread Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Perfect for: People who love a love story, who followed the royal weddings intensely, and those who secretly wanted to be Megan Markle.

Book Synopsis: “Two misfits. One extraordinary love.

… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough…Eleanor.

Park… He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises…Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. ” – Goodreads Synopsis

Spoiler-free review:

Has a book ever made your heart hurt? That made you want to reach out and just hold the characters, keeping them in place and safe? This is one of those books.

It follows two young teenagers in love. Their love isn’t traditional. She’s a plus size girl and he’s an Asian kid in middle America in the 80s. They both could be considered outcasts. Eleanor has lots of troubles back home while Park…not so much. And the story follows them during one of the worst times for Eleanor.

The story is bittersweet. I teared up a lot but I also related to Eleanor more than I should. I come from a good family but I’m overweight and loud and brash and too much. Her approach to love is very similar to mine and it broke my heart.

Spoiler review:

I went into this book knowing something bad will probably happen. I read each chapter just waiting for it to go down in a firey blaze. I think that’s why I cried the most when the ending wasn’t a disaster, not angry and full of hate, but an ending that was just sad and hollow. You feel like Park in the end, feeling Eleanor be so far away–wanting to kill her step-dad. Waiting for Park to do so. Oof. Did I get invested in the characters.

Going into this book, I knew the complaints. I knew there were complaints that they switched POV back and forth too much–I kind of agree. I almost feel like POV wasn’t important here. A straight foward narrated story would have been just fine. And during the Park sections the author said Park too often instead of just he. I noticed it the most in audio book. It was Park, Park, Park at the beginning of ever sentence.

The characters were fully developed though. Using the POV of Eleanor you thought you knew your enemies but in the end it wasn’t the follow teen, it was always her step-dad and I was grateful for that. I was grateful that Tina wasn’t the enemy in the end. She was petty and mad about Park and easily manipulated by her peers, but when it came down to it, with Eleanor needing a safe place, Tina did not hesitate. Sometimes life is bigger than high school and popularity and I’m glad Tina was strong enough of a character to see that. She’s still a tiny bit of a bitch though…and that’s alright.

The ending was sad. I cried while trying to drive to CVS. There was still hope though…and I think that was Eleanor’s arc. To believe there was hope.

There’s always hope.

Let me know if you enjoyed this book or any other’s by Rainbow Rowell in the comments below. I know there’s a few out there.

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