Book: Eleanor & Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Genre: Young Adult, Romance
Published by: St. Martin’s Press
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Eleanor… 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.
“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.”
I’ve heard lots of great things about this book before I finally decided to read it. Because of the synopsis and all the good reviews, I was really excited for this book and was hoping that I would love it as much as almost everyone else.
Now, after having read it, I can say that “Eleanor & Park” didn’t completely blow me away but I still really liked it.
Right at the beginning of the book you find out that both Eleanor and Park are what we would refer to as “outsiders” today. Park is the “Asian kid” that never really fit in. And Eleanor is the new kid that is struggling with her weight, her bright red, curly hair and her clothes that never really fit together because she doesn’t have money to buy something new.
They’re not like the protagonists of the majority of the books I’ve read in my life and that’s why I was so excited to read this book.
Eleanor and Park have problems that most of us “ordinary mortals” are struggling with as well and I was interested in seeing how their “problems” would affect their everyday life and their relationship.
Their relationship is basically what the book revolves around. Slowly but surely the two fall for each other and it was killing me that they didn’t get together faster than they did. But on the other hand, I also loved that it took them longer to become a couple because I loved how small gestures made them grow closer and closer from page to page.
I loved the background of Eleanor and Park and how they managed to make their relationship work even though anyone would’ve said that their relationship is a hopeless case. And I also loved that the book was very easy to read. I’m not a fan of changing POVs and I usually always stop reading as soon as I realize that an author is changing the POV. But Rainbow Rowell just made it work for me even though the POV probably changed up to ten times per chapter. Changing the POVs just kind of fit the story and something would’ve been missing if it had been written only from either Eleanor’s or Park’s point of view.
But unfortunately I have to admit that there were also some things that really bothered me while reading this book.
Eleanor is a very self-conscious character and has trust issues which is completely understandable, considering her story. But even after having known Park for months and having gone through so much with him, she still freaked out because of unnecessary things like the girl he kissed in sixth grade.
Even Park was frustrated at some points of the story but he loved her and so he managed to deal with it. But I don’t love her and can’t see her through his eyes which is why she really annoyed me at some times. Maybe I’m being ignorant right now and just can’t put myself in her place, but I just felt like she could’ve trusted him more, especially towards the end of the book.
Next to that I also didn’t like how she was dealing with her siblings. She complained about their behavior quite a few times but instead of helping them with the situation at home, she spent most of her time with Park at his place. Now she didn’t have to be home all day anymore but her siblings were still stuck in that hell hole.
After having returned home at the beginning of the book, she has often said how sorry she was for not having been there for her siblings while she was gone. But after having fled to her Uncle in Minnesota, she didn’t ask them to get her siblings when they were talking about helping the rest of her family. She should’ve stood up for them in that moment and should’ve helped them get away from Richie. Who knows what happened to her siblings after she had left them again? Who knows how angry he was about her disappearance?
Because of all these things, I just didn’t really like Eleanor and didn’t feel a “connection” to her. But I loved Park which is why I could still enjoy the book even though I didn’t like one of the main characters.
Especially, at the end of the book I felt sorry for him and he seems to be just the kind of person everyone should have in their life.
All in all, I’m giving the book four out of five stars because I loved the story and also most of the characters but I just have to deduct a star because I didn’t like Eleanor and also because I didn’t really feel like the story had a proper plot. The book started at some point of their lives and was over a few months later. There wasn’t some big event they were working towards to if you know what I mean. Like Harry Potter who knew that he would have to face Lord Voldemort one day, or Louisa Clark who knew that Will would have to make his decision on a certain day or Katniss who knew that she would have to survive the Hunger Games if she wanted to see her family again. Eleanor and Park were just living their lived and there were no plot twists or any other unexpected things that happened. I also wasn’t surprised about the ending of the book because I completely knew that it would probably end like that.
But even though I was a little disappointed about that, it’s not a reason to only give the book two or three stars because I still really enjoyed reading it.
So if you like Young Adult and Romance books, I would say that you should definitely give this book a try. But if you don’t really like Young Adult books and are looking for a book that will make you like the genre again, I would suggest reading a different book first.
What did you guys think about Eleanor & Park?