Book Review: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell


Rating: 3.5 / 5

Eleanor is the new girl in town, and like almost all new girls, she doesn’t fit in.  At all.  Her hair is wild, curly, and red.  Her family is far from wealthy, so instead of dressing in the latest trends, most of her clothes are bought from Goodwill, and she must be creative when they become too small, but can’t afford clothes that fit her.  On her first day of school, she is stuck sitting next to Park on the bus.  Park is half Korean, half American, and also doesn’t quite fit in, but skates by.  Their relationship grows slowly, when Park realizes that Eleanor is reading his comics with him on the bus.  From there, they move to sharing music, and soon, the bus rides together are best parts of their days.

This is the story of first love, the ups and downs, miscommunications, and above all else, hope.  I loved Rowell’s other novel, Attachments, so had to read this one.  Rowell expertly writes about teenage angst and love.  Both Eleanor and Park were likeable, engaging, and funny.  One aspect of this book I thought was great was that it was told from both perspectives.  It was delightful to read how a single touch or response was deconstructed differently by both of them.  Although my upbringing was far from Eleanor’s, there were parts of her life that I related to, much to my chagrin.

As much as I wanted to love this book, I ended thinking it was just OK.  It is definitely different from Attachments, so readers who are looking for something like that, well, be warned.  Slow burning books probably are not my cup of tea.  Eleanor and Park was interesting enough to keep me reading, but I think I was waiting for a big event.  There was one near the end, but I was expecting something earlier, and I was expecting something brought on by Eleanor or Park, not something outside their control.  Overall, it’s a cute book, but I was hoping for something more which never came to fruition.  Nonetheless, I will continue to read Rainbow Rowell’s work because I do enjoy her writing.

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