Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Title:  Eleanor & Park
Author:  Rainbow Rowell
Series:  None
Publisher:  St. Martin’s Griffin, an imprint of Macmillan
Publication Date:  February 26, 2013
Pages:  325
Format/Source:  ARC/Borrowed from a friend

Age Group/Genre:  Young Adult/Contemporary, Romance

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. (Cover and synopsis from Goodreads)

All the Feels…

OMG you guys, this book.  This BOOK.  So first of all, it’s set in the 1980s, which is so nostalgic for me.  Sure, I was 6 when the characters were 16, but I still remember so much of this time period.  Things really were so different then than they are now, and so much simpler in a way.  So I love when books are set in that time period, even though it’s not THAT long ago.

I loved so many other things about this book.  I love that Rowell shows us right away exactly what it’s like to be a new girl.  So many books and movies have new girls who are gorgeous who are just brought into the cool group right away, or are fawned over by all the hottest guys in school.  Well, I was a new girl in high school and it was NOTHING like that for me.  I got teased on the bus, and had no one to sit with at lunch sometimes so I sat and ate my lunch in the bathroom. (Gross, right? But it was a good place to hide, where I could be alone and it wouldn’t be so obvious that I had no friends.) It was a sad existence, not a cool, fun adventure.  And Rowell paints this picture of Eleanor as the new girl so realistically for me.

And I loved the progression of Eleanor and Park’s relationship.  It was so cute when she started reading his comic books over his shoulder on the bus and he would turn the pages slower so she could read it!  And he lets her borrow the comic books and then makes her a mix tape!  You know he’s a keeper if he makes you a mix tape!

And I loved their first, long phone conversation.  It’s the epitome of a new, fresh relationship.  You spend hours talking about anything and everything, relishing in all that makes up that other person, feeling like you could talk to them for days.

But there were some extremely sad parts in this book, so don’t expect it to be all fresh young romance and lovey dovey stuff.  Eleanor has a HARD life, and it gets worse.  But that ending!  I cursed and started crying.  One of the best endings I’ve read in forever!

Bonus Points…

Rainbow Rowell scored some major bonus points for the following reasons:

  • Willy Wonka reference = 50,000 points
  • Multiple Star Wars references = 200,000 points
  • Doctor Who reference = 100,000 points
  • Jane Eyre reference = 50,000 points
  • Superman, Batman, X-Men references = 100,000 points
  • That ending = ALL THE POINTS.

Yeah, so, if my points really counted in the scheme of things, I think Rainbow Rowell would be winning.  She’d at least get some kind of trophy.

Great Quotes…

I wrote down several awesome quotes from Eleanor & Park, but here are a few of my favorites*:

“All her bones seemed more purposeful than other people’s.  Like they weren’t just there to hold her up; they were there to make a point.”

“Or maybe, he thought now, he just didn’t recognize all those other girls.  The way a computer drive will spit out a disk if it doesn’t recognize the formatting.
When he touched Eleanor’s hand, he recognized her.  He knew.”

“Steve had the kind of face that could take or leave teeth.  A few gaps in Steve’s smile would just add to the big, creepy goon look he was rocking.
But Park’s face was like art.  And not weird, ugly art either.  Park had the sort of face you painted because you didn’t want history to forget it.”

“Eleanor was right: She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.”

“You think that holding someone hard will bring them closer.  You think that you can hold them so hard that you’ll still feel them, embossed on you, when you pull away.
Every time Eleanor pulled away from Park, she felt the gasping loss of him.”

My rating for Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell:

5 HUGE stars, and I’ve added it to my Favorites shelf on Goodreads.  Eleanor and Park have become one of my favorite couples of all time, and I can’t wait to read more books by Rainbow Rowell!
Find it:  Goodreads │ Amazon │ Macmillan
You may also enjoy:  Paper TownsThe Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

Disclaimer:  I borrowed this ARC from a friend (Thanks, Jessie!).  I was not compensated in any way for this review.

*I read an ARC of this book, but I checked the quotes against a finished copy.


  1. Kimberly @ On the Wings of Books

    August 9, 2013 at 10:57 am

    So glad you loved this! I actually just got this from the library the other day!

  2. Andrea @ Cozy Up

    August 9, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    This book gave me all the feels, I don't even know what to say! That ending was just… Oh my gosh. I'm so glad you loved this book, I was nervous because of all the hype but it was just so amazing. I love Rainbow Rowell now (I think you'll love Fangirl when you read it too!)

  3. Asheley (@BookwormAsheley)

    August 9, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    I'm SO GLAD you liked this one so much. I read this one in one sitting and I think I cried several times throughout it because it was super personal to me with regard to Eleanor. It's sitting comfortably at my #2 favorite book of the year, after Attachments by Rainbow Rowell which is so far FIRMLY at #1. Yes, I think I liked that one better. I like this book so much that I don't think I can talk about how much in print, I could only do it in person so you could see my face and my hand gestures and hear my voice as I talk about all of the same stuff that you loved about the book. It's just so special to me and I think a ton of other people too. Great thoughts. Everytime someone loves this one, I just get SO HAPPY!!!

  4. Shane Morgan

    August 11, 2013 at 11:41 am

    Great review & quotes. I should read this :)

  5. fakesteph

    August 25, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    I seriously need to get to this one… if you loved it this much and I know how you feel about contemporary… Also, you checked your quotes against a finished copy. Not wanting to do that is why I don't include quotes. :) I'm totally impressed right now.

  6. Bittner

    November 4, 2013 at 5:01 am

    Oh My God! Reading this review makes me want to re-re-read this book RIGHT NOW!!! But I can't…I can't…OH BUT I MUST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    My review for this wasn't nearly as good as yours was but I was too swoony and gushy to think straight while I was trying to write it.
    And I agree about the mix tape! A guy who makes a mix tape is a keeper! And a friend who makes a mix tape/cd is even better…

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