Rainbow Rowell – Eleanor and Park

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Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

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.

This book is going to be a movie and I cannot wait.

I got the Exclusive Collector’s Edition of this book from B&N, and the fan art in the inner cover is so beautiful!! Woo lookee here:

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(but pretty much all the fan art for these characters are amazing anyway so)

Anyway, I’m pretty sure I showed it to all my friends when I was reading it at school.

Eleanor is a slightly chubby redhead who comes from a large, dysfunctional family. I thought my family was dysfunctional, but this girl has it tough. Her mother has way too many problems going on to be really involved in her life, including being submissive to Eleanor’s evil stepfather, Richie.

Park, on the other hand, grew up surrounded by love in his family, although he has his own issues. Park is half Korean and half Irish, which makes him quite conflicted. He’s a really quiet kinda guy (typical Asian), and buries his mind behind lots of comics and music. (Not sure if he’s a DC or Marvel fan since he reads both.)

The two meet each other on the bus… like in the first picture in the cover of the book. It is not love at first sight. Day one of her new school, and Eleanor is having a heck of a day. Throughout her time in high school she is teased and bullied because of her looks. On the bus it’s not different… until Park reluctantly scoots over and shares his seat with her. How sweet and gallant.

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But it’s not that romantic, considering the way he did it.
“‘Sit down,’ he said. It came out angrily. The girl turned to him, like she couldn’t tell whether he was another jerk or what. ‘Jesus-fuck,’ Park said softly, nodding to the space next to him, ‘just sit down.'”
Yeah man not the best first impression.
But as they continue to encounter each other in English class and on their rides to the bus stop and school, their relationship progresses into something… more.
At first it was eavesreading Park’s comics.
Then it was borrowing comics, followed by them being returned in pristine condition.
Then it was introducing Eleanor to the world of music Park created for himself.
And then the relationship reaches its zenith where everything is warm and fuzzy and great in the world. Except for it isn’t.

Not when Eleanor’s abusive step-dad is in the picture. Not when people still bully Eleanor at school. Not when Park’s dad is worried about him being too much like a girl.
But Eleanor and Park? They get through it together. Eleanor even makes friends with two black girls, Beebi and Denice, who has got her back throughout the bullying. Their support was really encouraging to her, and reading their friendship blossom made me smile.

A lot of people say that Eleanor and Park remind them of their high school years, whether their life is like Eleanor’s or Park’s or a little bit of both. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for me. The characters are both sophomores (like me) and sixteen (like I will be in a month), but I can never see myself in their situation. It may also be because I’ve never fallen in “love” before (the way they had in the book), but honestly, I’m wondering to myself what else do these kids do outside of school. When they start dating, Eleanor would just hang out at Park’s house after school. And she would stay for dinner.
I’m like – “What? What are you guys doing for 4+ hours?” My high school ends at about 2 pm, and homework alone for me takes time. But I also fill my days with extracurriculars, hobbies, etc. And I don’t believe that comic books and casette tapes can take up so much of your life. (Maybe they can! Whatever’s groovy to them, but I still can’t understand that.)

As the book progresses, we get to learn more about our characters. Eleanor can be so strong, especially when she’s taking care of her younger siblings when Richie gets aggressive. She doesn’t care what other people think about her appearance, and she’d rather not hide her face behind a bunch of make-up. She and Park agree on a lot of things, which I think is adorable. Park really opens to the readers throughout the book. On the surface, he seems to live a perfectly dandy life, with grandparents next door and walls full of family photos. But Park can also be misunderstood by both his father and mother (not at the same time though) and goes through a trial in the beginning of his and Eleanor’s relationship.

That ending, though, was quite realistic. Sometimes I’m so mad at realistic fiction being so realistic dammit. It was heartbreaking but also satisfying. Don’t worry kids, Eleanor and Park’s story doesn’t end in the end.

I really recommend this to readers who have had a period of time where they didn’t think they fit in, and people who’d like to read about a character who is like that but finds themself – and love – during this period. It was harder for me to really understand the characters and what they were going through, but I’m sure many other people can empathize better. As a contemporary romance, it really fits the bill and is great for people who are looking for warm, fuzzy reads to occupy their time.

Rating: 3.5/5


**Quick rant!
Because I have to add my own comment to what Park said in the book.
“‘Nobody thinks Asian guys are hot,’ Park said finally.
I BEG TO DIFFER PARK BECAUSE DO YOU NOT HAVE EYES. Here are some full-blooded (is that a word?) Koreans, that I think would pass pretty well in the states.
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THANKS I’M DONE.


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3 thoughts on “Rainbow Rowell – Eleanor and Park

  1. Olivia says:

    This is going to be a movie? So many books being made into movies lately D: I need to read it before then! It has been on my TBR for a while because I do want to try my first book by Rainbow Rowell at some point 😛 It does sound like a nice romance, but I understandable how it would be unrelatable. Teens seem to never have the realistic amount of homework that we do in books xD

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