This Book. This. Book. A good book makes you feel, and Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell had me feeling all sorts of things – my stomach had butterflies when things were high and my chest ached when things were low. Put simply: Rowell is a genius.
Read on to see my spoiler-free thoughts on Eleanor & Park.
YA, Contemporary, Romance, Fiction… okay, it takes place in the 1980s, but I’m calling it contemporary anyway.
Everyone who enjoys these genres. However, I’d like to note that this book isn’t all light and fluffy; there are also instances of bullying, familial hardship, and abuse. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read it – I’d still recommend it hands-down.
Overview (From Book Jacket)
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.
Omaha, Nebraska, 1986-1987
Eleanor and Park are officially my new OTP (one true pairing). I loved everything about them – their banter, their personalities, their nerdiness, their uniqueness, their strength, and their love. These characters weren’t perfect; they had flaws, they made mistakes, and that just made them that much more relatable and lovable.
What I Liked
Besides Eleanor and Park? 💕
Rowell’s writing was spectacular and the pacing was perfect. I also think this was, quite possibly, the best depiction of a slow-burn romance I’ve ever read. (Was it even really a slow-burn? Idk – it sure felt like it.) Rowell brought the characters and their individual worlds, realities, and perspectives to life. I wanted to hug each of them.
What I Liked A Little Less
Open-ended ending!!! Grrrr!!! Or at least, too open-ended for my taste. I’m a creature of closure, I like knowing how things turn out, definitively. (Yeah, I know, “good luck with that, D”). That’s really the only thing that I “didn’t like” about this book. And that’s obviously 150% my personal opinion and doesn’t reflect on the quality of the book whatsoever.
5/5 ✨ I wholeheartedly recommend Eleanor & Park to anyone and everyone who enjoys contemporary YA romance. This book will stay with me for quite some time. Although, if you’re one that needs absolute closure – at least you’ve been forewarned.