Book Review: Eleanor and Park

My new romance for February was finally (finally) this book because I’m very late to jump on the bandwagon and kept forgetting it existed. But I did it. I read the thing. And I wasn’t disappointed.

71LkLmxqgjLEleanor and Park

  • Author: Rainbow Rowell
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
  • Year: 2013
  • Shelved in: Teen romance
  • Genre vibe: Contemporary teen romance, and a large portion of the book is almost slice-of-life.
  • At a glance: Eleanor is weird, quiet, and hurting. Park is small, quiet, and dark. They meet on the bus. And then things happen.

I was super, super impressed by this book. The biggest praise I’ve heard for Rowell was on the subject of Fangirl, which never appealed to me. But I’ve had my eye on this one for awhile, and when a friend actually, personally recommended it to me a few weeks ago, I made it a tangible thing on my TBR.

I’m really glad I did.

Eleanor & Park deals with a lot of things. Things like Eleanor’s abusive home to Park’s insecurities, the different kinds of people that are in this world. But I think my favorite out of all the things it dealt with was the slow but definite development of Eleanor and Park’s relationship.

Everything in this book is really…clear. There’s not much that’s trying to keep secrets from you besides the plot twist, and everything that happens or is done has a clear purpose. I liked that. I liked how Eleanor and Park…met. It was logical and normal and somehow gave me a small feeling of whimsy and started off the atmosphere of a glimpse into these two people’s lives as an outsider that was to continue throughout the book.

All that to say, Rowell knows how to tell a story. And she’s really, really good at it. Setup, pacing, narrative, everything is there and on point. It makes the book an easy and ridiculously engaging read.

Not to mention the actual writing style. Not too simplistic, not unnecessarily early. Absolutely perfect and definitely tailored to each of their two points of view.

All put together, it’s just…a beautiful, beautiful book.

The way the harder situations are dealt with is good, and the character development was amazing. I fell in love alongside both of them and it was a neat experience. So often these stories are one-sided, and the best part of this book is that this one wasn’t. It’s Eleanor and Park. Both of them are included in this relationship, in this story, and that’s the thing that I’m going to remember most from reading this.

And, that said, Eleanor and Park are both incredible, incredible characters all on their own. I related to Park a little more, and though that doesn’t usually influence how my favorite characters come out of a book, it did this time. I also felt like Park’s inner journey was a little bit more defined and less obvious than Eleanor’s. Not that Eleanor’s was bad or predictable in a boring way, but it was a little easier to see where she would end up, and so I didn’t really get to go on the journey with her quite as much.

Really the only negative thing I have to say about this book is that the ending took something from me. I completely understood, and it broke my heart like it was supposed to. But it happened so fast. Which may have been the point, but it was so out of keeping with the rest of the book that it took me a while and a couple of re-read pages to even realistically get a grasp on what had happened.

I finally came to the conclusion that it wasn’t bad, or wrong. I just wasn’t ready.

But this was a stunning read, and I’d love to have it on my shelf before too long. It’d be worth a second read eventually. So overall,

  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars with that fifth one just a little bit less obvious
  • Recommended to: People who like really good romance and who aren’t afraid of some grittier subjects. Perfect book to curl up with on a cold day and just…read.
  • Lasting impression: Vinyl records, a dimly-lit suburban home, the feeling of sitting on top of a bedspread, holding hands.

 

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