Eleanor + Park

Title: Eleanor & Park

Author: Rainbow Rowell. She’s the author of a previous adult novel,  Attachments.

Genre: Young Adult, Romance

Readers:  Stay at home mom Shawna, bookseller Pam, freelance editor Allison and art history professor JoLee.

It’s 1986 and two star-crossed teens are 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.

 A cross between the iconic ’80s movie Sixteen Candles and the classic coming-of-age novel Looking for Alaska, Eleanor & Park is a brilliantly written young adult novel.

Shawna  Bio

The story of these two young lovebirds is so well written, I found myself unable to put it down. I fell in love with the characters as they fell in love with each other. The words and tone that the author uses to describe the characters is perfect, spot-on. As you are reading, you feel the hurt, the confusion, the sadness that the characters are feeling. You experience the hope and joy that is young love. The book also has a slightly darker side. The home-life of Eleanor makes my heart heavy every time I think of it. Those people became real to me.

You know those books that you read and are so sad when they end because you are not ready to let go of the characters yet? Yeah, this is one of those books. It is one I plan on reading over and over again. Fully recommend it to anyone who is looking for an easy read, but also one that you can’t put down

There is not one single thing I suggest to change about this book, it is perfect the way it is.

Grade: A


Pam  Bio

This is one of those books where you want to hug the characters the entire time you’re reading. Eleanor and Park are so sweet together, and their home situations are so disparate and multi-dimensional. It’s definitely a good reminder that not everyone in high school fits into a neat box. When the shy and awkward Eleanor, new kid in town, takes a seat next to geeky and Asian (in a town full of white folks) Park, it’s hard not to feel like you’re back in high school yourself.

The end of this book left me a little frustrated, but overall, it was well worth the read. There’s also plenty of ’80s nostalgia – if you still remember the lyrics to any Smiths songs, this book is for you!

Grade: B+


Allison  Bio

I loved this book. I fell in love with the characters immediately and their story kept me up late into the night! It was the kind of book that makes you sad to finish because you don’t get to be with the characters anymore and you can’t start a new book quite yet because you feel so completely immersed in the world and lives of the characters that you don’t want to let go just yet.

I haven’t ever been particularly interested in realistic young adult fiction, especially romance. I’ve read and enjoyed realistic romantic narratives for adults like The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides, a book I also became immediately immersed in (and also set in the 1980s…so maybe a pattern is forming…). When I picked up the book, my worry was that it would be some hackneyed rehashing of teen angst and romance. But it absolutely wasn’t. Every moment felt real, fresh, and vivid. The book didn’t shy away from the realities of high school and the thoughts and actions of all the characters felt authentic. You ache for and with the characters. You fall in love with them. I remember reading the description of when Eleanor and Park first hold hands and thinking “This is exactly what it felt like to hold hands with your first love!” I was so moved by the author’s prose and equally shocked at how much the narrative rang true with feelings that so often seem indescribable.

The book was engaging and invigorating, the conflict kept me on the edge of my seat, rooting that these two would make it. I would highly recommend this book honestly to anyone.

Grade: A

Read Also:  Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan


JoLee  Bio

Eleanor & Park is the kind of quiet story that creeps up on you and, before you know it, you can’t seem to put it down. I think much of the book’s loveliness is due to Rainbow Rowell’s beautiful writing. It’s the kind of writing that swells in your chest as you read and settles there to stay. The third person limited tense that switches between Park’s and Eleanor’s perspectives, really worked for me. (I’m finding being in teenagers’ heads rather wearing right now.) Sometimes the lovey teenage books are too lovey for me, but this one was okay, partly because the language was fabulous but mostly because the relationship is not rushed. We get to know Eleanor and Park over the course of almost an entire school year. Also these kids are a couple of really endearing (at least partially self-proclaimed) misfits. Park is so earnest and Eleanor is so fragile and prickly. She is dealing with some stuff that will break your heart. This book will be that much better if you have ever ridden a school bus, or if you love 1980’s music and comic books.

Grade: B+

Read Also: Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta

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Thanks to St. Martin’s Press for providing our reviewers with copies of this book.

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