Book Review: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell


Eleanor and Park was on a wish-list my brilliant and beautiful granddaughter, Q, wanted for Christmas. I’ve seen the book touted on blogs and GoodReads but didn’t really pay attention. Before buying it for her I checked it out. I decided I’d like to read the book myself.

Eleanor and Park are two fictional sixteen-year-olds living in Omaha, Nebraska in the 1980s. These two are like no one I’ve met before, yet their story took me back to my own teen years. It made me remember what it was like to be in love for the first time – physically, mentally and emotionally.

Eleanor and Park met on the bus on the way to high school. Eleanor was the new girl and Park was the only one to let her sit down next to him. They have a couple of honors classes together but their friendship develops on the bus.

Eleanor doesn’t fit in with the other kids. She has shaggy red hair, is overweight, and wears outrageous clothes. The really heartbreaking part is her family situation. Her four siblings and her mom live with an abusive and scary guy. All five kids are in one bedroom with only one set of bunkbeds, there’s no door on the bathroom, and not much to eat.

Park lives around the corner from Eleanor but his family life is miles apart. His parents are loving but strict. His dad met and married his mom when he was in the Korean War. As a half-Asian high schooler in Omaha, Park doesn’t exactly fit in either.

The first few weeks after Eleanor and Park meet they don’t really talk or even make eye contact. But, Park sees Eleanor eyeing his comics. He arranges them so she can read them and then sends some home with her. The bond is completed over their compatible music tastes, sense of humor, and values.

As their relationship grows, Eleanor enjoys the acceptance of Park’s family. Park’s mom is a real gem. But as time goes on, problems with Eleanor’s step-father escalate until there is a point where Eleanor must make a decision  for herself and her siblings.

This touching and sometimes heartbreaking story is one I suggest you not miss. The author’s ability to take her readers inside the lives of two amazing teenagers is spectacular. Read it and you’ll thank me as I now thank my granddaughter.

Note: An excellent review of this novel can be found on the NY Times website here. The review is written by none other than author John Green (The Fault In Our Stars).


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7 Responses to Book Review: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

  1. Ti says:

    Yes! This one is on my list for many reasons. First, it just sounds good and second… I have not read this author yet and she had another one out that caught my interest a couple of years back.

  2. kelley says:

    I’ve got to read this one! You always read the best books. I’m off to read that review by John Green.

  3. Sue Jackson says:

    Oh, I so want to read this novel! I keep hearing such wonderful things about it. I will have to make time for it this year. Did your granddaughter like it?

    Thanks for the review –


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  4. candice says:

    I just finished reading this and it was wonderful! Heartbreaking, but wonderful. I really wish these kinds of books were written when i was a teen. The characters seem very real, and I love the boy voice/perspective that was always absent in books from my teen-years. I found myself crying through the beginning and less so as the story went on- somehow the characters made me stronger and I felt better able to deal with eleanor’s life. Or, maybe it was the partnership with park that made it more bearable. Anyway, I highly recommend this book! I think i will be rereading eleanor & park very soon.

  5. When I first saw this on blogs I wondered at how much it was praised, and then I read it. There is something magical about Rowell’s writing, it’s such a good book. Glad your granddaughter’s wishlist got you reading it and well done on What’s in a name so far!

  6. Hopping over from the What’s In a Name Challenge.

    I’ve been wanting to get to this one — your review pushes it higher on my list!

  7. Everything is very open with a clear description of the challenges.
    It was truly informative. Your site is useful. Thank you for

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