Sunday, January 13, 2013

ARC Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Expected publication: March 5, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin's Press

"Bono met his wife in high school," Park says.
"So did Jerry Lee Lewis," Eleanor answers.d
"I’m not kidding," he says.
"You should be," she says, "we’re sixteen."
"What about Romeo and Juliet?"
"Shallow, confused, then dead."
''I love you," Park says.
"Wherefore art thou," Eleanor answers.
"I’m not kidding," he says.
"You should be."
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.

My Thoughts
What a pleasant surprise Eleanor & Park turned out to be! It absolutely caught me off guard around the mid point of the story when the characters suddenly began to wrap themselves around my heart. By the final pages, I was completely vested in Eleanor and Park’s story about unlikely friendships, complicated love and painful life experiences.

In this story, we meet Eleanor and Park during their sophomore year when they encounter each other for the very first time in the most brutal of places… the school bus. They don’t quite hit it off from the get go, as a matter of fact their initial meeting was cringe-worthy and all around brutal. Eleanor made quite the impression with her second-hand boy clothes and who-cares attitude, but as the story progresses, there’s more to her appearance and attitude than meets the eye. When the quiet, yet cool Park begrudgingly offers her a seat next to him on the bus and begins to break down the walls she’s built around herself, they eventually become close friends and develop a messy and complicated romance.

There were so many layers to this book that unfolded as the story progressed. We get to witness concepts play out such as school bullying, family problems, racial biases, and so much more. Every page was purposeful as each chapter added to the compounding depth of this story. By the end, nothing was wrapped up in a pretty bow, but surprisingly everything was appropriately addressed, making the story feel both impactful yet realistic.

My heart broke for Eleanor as I witnessed her struggles and felt her agony over her family situation. When I compared her life to Park’s, it really made me appreciate their friendship and bond so much more as Park tried to share some of his good fortune with her in so many ways. He really came to be Eleanor’s “knight in shining amour” and it just made the experience all the more sincere and heartfelt.

The twist at the end really caught me by surprise, and it just made me dislike one of the characters even more, which I didn’t think was possible. I always struggle with crappy fictional parents and this story really wins a prize in the “Worst Parents Ever” category. To see what Eleanor has to struggle with broke my heart. In contrast, when I compared them to Park’s mom and dad, it added that much needed levity to show that there are some parents that really get it, so I found myself applauding them.

Overall, this story is an unassuming tale of first love and teenage hardships. It took some time for me to fall for the characters, but when I did… it was well worth the journey. I truly enjoyed this book. Well done!

Quotes taken from an uncorrected proof:
The first time he'd held her hand, it felt so good that it crowded out all the bad things. It felt better than anything had ever hurt.

You saved my life, she tried to tell him. Not forever, not for good. Probably just temporarily. But you saved my life, and now I'm yours. The me that's me right now is yours. Always...
4 Snowflakes


  1. This book looks adorable, I can't wait to get a chance to read it. Glad you liked it, great review!

  2. Oh this is such a beautiful review Arlene. I'm going to hopefully start this pretty soon, so I hope I enjoy it just as much as you did! :)

  3. I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH! It's such a sweet build up and the way Rainbow writes is phenomenal, I totally cried :D I know what you mean about the ending though.

    Marlene Detierro (CashFund)