- Reading level: 7.00+ years
- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Orion; Latest edition (28 February 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1409120546
- ISBN-13: 978-1409120544
- Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.1 x 19.5 cm
- Customer Reviews: 3,198 customer ratings
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #895 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Eleanor & Park Paperback – 28 February 2013
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The pure, fear-laced, yet steadily maturing relationship Eleanor and Park develop is urgent and breathtaking and, of course, heartbreaking, too (BOOKLIST starred review)
Reminded me not just what it's like to be young and in love, but what it's like to be young and in love with a book (John Green, author of The Fault in our Stars)
'If you haven't come across it before, we very much recommend Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor And Park, which is a gut-punch of a love story that we downloaded and raced through in one train journey.' (EMERALD STREET)
A breathless, achingly good read about love and outsiders (Stephanie Perkins, author of Anna and the French Kiss)
Eleanor and Park is completely beautiful. Set in 1986 and full of retro pop culture references, it's a book I want to share with everyone. . . I don't think a single person could read this book and not have their heart melted. (ONCE UPON A BOOKCASE)
Deliriously beautiful . . . My only problem with this book was that I finished it. And I knew I wanted to keep it in my life, always (Jenny Bird for Forever Young Adult)
This sexy, smart, tender romance thrums with punk rock and true love (Gayle Forman, bestselling author of If I Stay)
Rowell keeps things surprising, and the solution - imperfect but believable - maintains the novel's delicate balance of light and dark (Publishers Weekly, starred review)
The pure, fear-laced, yet steadily maturing relationship Eleanor and Park develop is urgent and breathtaking and, of course, heartbreaking, too (Booklist, starred review)
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One extraordinary love.
This book. I don't know what to say.
Even though I am writing this review days after finishing the book, it still gets me emotional. And only Rainbow Rowell's books can do that. I never expected this simple story of two strangers to affect like this. I mean I don't have any words for this unusual book and its characters.
Eleanor & Park doesn't talk to each other, and after reading this book you won't find it odd because their whole relationship starts with them sitting there on the bus and Eleanor trying to read Park's comics and him trying to share it with her and their songs playlists exchange and......well, I can go on forever because this book is just....too adorable, and sad :( Those cute exchange and small gestures still manages to make me smile! *Please don't pay attention to the number of 'and' I have used in this paragraph* lol
“Holding Eleanor's hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like holding something complete, and completely alive.”
I love Eleanor's character in this book. And most importantly, I love how this book shows that looks doesn't matter when you actually love someone. Eleanor has red hair and is often bullied by other students for her looks and dressing style. But she doesn't pay attention to them, mostly because she is already dealing with so many issues of her own. She has to share her room with her four siblings, and has already gone through a lot in past because of family issues.
Park is a really cool character. When he notices that Eleanor is trying to read his comics on the bus, next day he comes up with some extra comics so that she can read them. And after that they get into this routine of sharing comics and music, which then turns into a very special relationship. He's a very quite person and usually tries to stay away from any argument, but doesn't hesitate to stand up for the people he cares for.
This might look like a light read, but it's not. It deals with many important and emotional issues like bullying, poverty, and violence. While I really enjoyed their love story, I really couldn't help but feel sad during those dark and emotional scenes. I was really surprised how despite these tragic moments, the author has portrayed love and friendship so beautifully. Some scenes very horrific and intense, but they were well balanced with the romance part of the book.
And when everything was going like it was supposed to, that ending happened. I just can't stop thinking about it! And even though the ending was that bad or anything, but it wasn't what I had expected either! At the end, this book left me with a lot of mixed feelings. It's a must read for all Rainbow Rowell fans, and even for those who are curious about this cute love story of Eleanor & Park.
Park, the boy on the last seat of the school bus has headphones plugged in and head stuck in books.
Slowly their friendship evolve. Months after sitting beside each other on the school bus, they begin to talk. Park shares his comics and music tapes with her and she very carefully reads and hides them from her siblings and parents.
Soon they fall for each other and visiting Park's house becomes a habit for Eleanor. Park's mother doesn't appreciate Eleanor in the beginning due to her being an unconventional girl but later she too loves her.
The story moves forward where Eleanor faces several problems but Park stands rock solid behind her.
This YA book makes you believe in love and not just the idea of love. It takes you back to your teenage and you re-live every moment with them. It also tells us that being different is okay.
The end can be disappointing for some and happening for others. Initially I too was disappointed by the way it ended but later made my peace with it and filled those three unsaid words with my own imagination.
This book will awaken your senses and jolt you - make you feel what first love felt like. The nerve tingling, goose bumpy, giddy headed feeling of first love. Oh Rainbow Rowell, what a fabulous story you have written and I am totally in love with your first book which I've read. THANK YOU!
One star minus for eleanor's character .
Top international reviews
While the book does have a slow-burning cute romance, and a hefty amount of more serious family issues, I really struggled with the fact that for me, the majority of the romance was so unbelievable.
I'm not sure how I feel about the ending of this book (it is left in a way that you, the reader, decide the ending). I like closure, and this book didn't give it to me. So I'm not sure if I like that. It was, however, a fitting end for the book. I'm just not sure if I'm happy it ended in the way it did, or extremely angry. That's why I've given this book 4/5, because I can't decide.
I'd recommend this book to people who like YA coming of age/romance books, such as The Fault in Our Stars - which is what made me read the book initially, John Greene's recommendation.
Beautiful story. Memorable. Made me laugh and cry a lot, and I'm sure it'll stay with me for a while. I'm just kind of hoping eventually, just maybe, the author will decide to follow up on the ending and let us know how Eleanor and Park are getting on.
- Also posted on my Goodreads account -
It is a YA novel about a teen romance, so something we have all seen before, but it was somehow very different from the average novel of this genre. Eleanor and Park are both so well written they seem completely real, and it feels like their relationship could and would happen in real life. The way they communiate on their bus journeys was just so touching, and was so authntic as to how teenage romances are in the beginning.
It also meant a lot that the main characters were more diverse than the norm. In YA fiction, I have never come across a female protagonist who was described as fat, unless the story involved her losing weight in order to achieve her happily ever after. This is not the case with Eleanor. She is not thin, and that's just how it is. She still gets the guy, and still deserves to be happy and in love - a mesaage that young girls could do with hearing much more often. Park is also the first Korean leading man that I have read about, and there is a passage in the book that refers to how asian men are often overlooked, so it is good to see a character like this in the limelight, discussing openly what it is like to grow up in a household like his.
There are some painful experiences for the characters in this book, along with some moments of sheer happiness and excitement, and as a reader I felt like I lived through all of these moments with them. Eleanor has a tough life, but she finds an escape with Park, and this means that the book remains hopeful, even through the dark moments.
This is a wonderful YA book, the best I have read in a while.
From the moment 16 year old Eleanor steps on the school bus for the first time, she stands out like a sore thumb. With uncontrollable curly red hair, overweight, covered in freckles and wearing men's clothes her mother's picked up from the charity shop, she's a prime target for ridicule.
The quiet, half Korean, Park, who manages to stay below the radar of any bullying because he has a certain 'cool' factor, pretty much likes to keep himself to himself, but when everybody on the bus refuses to make room for Eleanor to sit down, he finds himself scooting up to the window seat and in a loud whisper, demands her to sit down on the spare seat next to him. From here on, both their lives are changed forever.
Eleanor is pretty much attracted to Park from the moment she sits next to him on the bus but doesn't even entertain the idea that he would ever have similar feelings towards her.
Unsure why, he finds himself reserving the spare seat for Eleanor on the bus continuously, both neither speaking to each other. Initially he thinks she's weird, but when he catches her surreptitiously reading his comic books alongside him on the bus journey to and from school, his feelings towards her change...
Unfortunately for Eleanor due to being new to the area and largely due to her looks she is teased and bullied by her peers. She also has family problems. Her alcoholic stepdad has an unstable temper and forces Eleanor's mum, younger sister and two brothers to live cheek by jowl, and causes them all to be walking on eggshells.
As the story develops, Park sees beyond the androgynous clothing and is drawn to her strength of character and very gradually a poignant romance begins to blossom. However there is one person that's determined to throw a spanner in the works...
The story is essentially about two teenage misfits (both misfits in very different ways) that are drawn to each other by the great dissimilarity between themselves. Neither of them have met a person like it in their lives and become enraptured, and in Park's case, fascinated with one another. This slowly turns into love.
This book was recommended to me by someone off goodreads.com, describing it 'like The Fault In Our Stars but without the cancer'. Eleanor and Park are much more grounded and relatable characters than Hazel and Augusts from The Fault In Our Stars.
I found Eleanor and Park's relationship to be very convincing of people in that age bracket. I grew up in the 80s and remember making compilation cassette tapes for people I liked. The bands and songs mentioned, give an adult reader a nostalgic value to the novel. A YA is unlikely to have heard of them.
I found Eleanor & Park to be a pleasant and easy to read book. Short chapters. Ideal for a YA who's a fan of the romance genre.
Eleanor and Park is one of the best books I have ever read.
It tells the story of Eleanor and Park (duh) and their young love in the 80’s. Eleanor comes from a broken home, and is immediately picked on as the new girl at school. Park is a half Korean misfit, who loved comics and punk music and wants to keep his head down. They fall together after she sits next to him on the bus, and the rest, as they say, is history. The plot may sound cheesy, but it’s nothing but. There are niggling little points through the story, which build up to a startling conclusion.
Eleanor and Park is really about the characters. They spoke with authentic voices and they had their own individual quirks. You could really distinct between Eleanor and Park, and see and feel their attraction and love for each other. Everyone can relate to at least one thing in one of the characters. Whether if its Eleanor’s self-consciousness, or Park’s feeling like he doesn’t fit in, Eleanor and Park touches so many topics, that it will never stop being relevant. But what I love the most about it is it is about love. It is not a story about body-image or ethnicity or broken homes, it’s about love. And it never loses sight of that.
One thing that really pleased me about this book was that it tackled a subject that I have been dying to see more in Young Adult literature: ethnicity and racism. Park is one of the first half Koreans I have seen in YA (probably the only one) and I am so glad Rowell has dealt with the issues surrounding second generation immigrants and the confusion of fitting in (you may notice that I am of Indian ethnicity).
Most importantly, Eleanor and Park made me feel. It took me on a journey with them, inside their heads, and I felt a part of the story. It was painful, it was ecstatic, it was everything being a teenager in love is like. I’m not the biggest pure romance fan, I find a lot of books in the genre to be very generic and clichéd, but I was on the edge of my mental seat, waiting for the twist and turn to come.
I could write a whole essay on why I love Eleanor and Park, but I’m going to leave it here. This book affected me right after the last page was turned, and I suggest you go out and get it.
Rating (can’t you guess?): 10/10
I thought Eleanor & Park would be a cute, sweet YA romance. What it actually is, is a rather dark, and at times almost depressing, story that is ultimately quite uplifting.
I loved Eleanor – I found her so easy to sympathise with, and I loved seeing her grow as a person despite a pretty terrible home life. The growth of both characters, as well as their relationship stopped the story from being all doom and gloom – watching them come together gradually was another point that really hooked me. It was so awkward and yet so perfect. And I loved Park’s mother – I just wish she had had a bit more page time as I found her background so fascinating.
Although it’s definitely not insta-love, at times the romance was a little too over-the-top for me – I could see why Eleanor and Park became so infatuated with each other because of their individual problems, and focusing on something good rather than something painful, but it times it distracted me further away from the issues than I wanted to be.
And 80’s pop culture references? SO MY THING. To me they are so appealing because I do remember the later part of the 80’s, but at times they felt a little forced, and at other times I actually felt a little confused because I actually forgot the time period. Which in a strange way is perhaps a testament to the strength of the plot because normally I’d be completely aware and analysing those references to make sure they were correct.
Overall, I enjoyed Eleanor & Park, and I’m not black sheeping it – it wasn’t the perfect book for my tastes, but I can fully appreciate why it would appeal to other readers, and I did really enjoy it. Definitely not my last Rainbow Rowell book!
Park is the sole Asian kid at his school, and seems to just get on with things. He’s not one of the cool crowd, but he’s left alone by them. He’s not the son his ex-military, martial arts fan dad would like him to be (his younger, taller, brother fills that role), but he knows he’s lucky to have two parents around who are still ridiculously, in-your-face in love. When new girl Eleanor boards the school bus, Park assesses her – clumsy, attention-grabbing and quirky – and curses his luck at having an empty seat beside him. Eleanor, meanwhile, knows that she stands out and not necessarily for the right reasons, but she’s more or less okay with that. She’s less concerned with how her fellow students see her than with her complicated home life: a mother who’s become unrecognisable since marrying Eleanor’s stepfather, who makes no secret of his dislike for Eleanor, and a clutch of younger siblings whose allegiances are easily switched and who don’t give Eleanor the privacy she craves. When she boards the bus on her first day at Park’s school, she doesn’t give too much thought to the slightly odd, silent, but somehow cool boy who offers her a seat when nobody else will. Over the comings days and weeks, though, Park and Eleanor move from ignoring one another to learning about one another to leaning on one another.
The two protagonists are great characters: both self-deprecating and analytical, but vastly different in other ways. Their friendship isn’t exactly based on common ground, but on comic books – read over Park’s shoulder by Eleanor, then read discretely together on twice-daily bus journeys, then offered to Eleanor by Park to take home and discussed in detail on the bus. Alongside this emerging relationship, we get insights into each of their home lives, which is perhaps where they – albeit unbeknownst to them – share more common ground. Neither of them court sympathy or dwell on the difficulties they face, but both are nonetheless (or perhaps consequently) very sympathetic characters you can’t help but root for.
The narrative really appealed to me, written from dual perspectives but always in the third person. This is really well done, I think: the third person narrative means there is no differentiation between voices, but Rainbow Rowell crafts the narrative beautifully so that the two different perspectives are distinct and believable. Often we see the same scene twice, from one point of view then the other, and this technique really helps to bring the characters to life – their differences and the reasons why they seem to work together.
I said that this is a sweet story, and it is, but it’s also bittersweet. Eleanor and Park face ups and downs, separately and together, and the end is satisfying but not a Disney-esque happy-ever-after. I really rate young adult books like this, that manage to appeal to the teenage market without over-simplifying things and tying everything up neatly and happily. Like The Fault in our Stars, Eleanor & Park covers difficult and sensitive issues in a way that’s accessible to a younger audience and (I think) encourages thoughtful reflection and (hopefully) discussion. Both also manage to do so with a touch of humour and plenty of happy moments; this, along with Rainbow Rowell’s excellent writing, means that Eleanor & Park really is a pleasure to read. It’s heartwarming and heartbreaking, perfect in its imperfection (much like their first-love relationship), delightfully innocent and tragically mature, and completely believable.
I went into this book thinking it would just be a love story, but it’s so much more than that. It also deals with subjects like bullying and acceptance and abuse with a lot of sensitivity.
Eleanor and Park as a love story itself didn't set my heart pounding, but it was very sweet nevertheless and also kind of slow-moving (this is a good thing - instalove is a bugbear of mine). They seemed to know that first love rarely lasts but they give it a shot anyway. I liked them as a couple - they were very sweet - but I felt they were strong enough characters to keep the story interesting even without the romantic element.
And can I just say: Rainbow Rowell's writing *sighs*. Seriously, how many authors come up with a paragraph like this:
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.
And how about this:
Holding Eleanor's hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like holding something complete, and completely alive.
So Eleanor & Park. After Attachments I expected to enjoy it, I didn’t expect better because it’s YA and I only usually read YA when I just want to read without thinking. As a more relaxing, easy read. It was on offer for the kindle though, so I thought I would give it a try. Actually I think it was better than Attachments. It was maybe in some ways less adult but it was less superficial I think. Especially from Eleanor’s side of the story.
I got Eleanor. The escapism. the shyness. The uncertainty. I was like her a lot in school. Whilst not having a bad time of it as she does; at home or at school, I could identify more with how she felt at times.
In a sense she was saved by Park. Una @ Watching the Words (see her review below) says it’s anti-feminist. Well maybe, but I don’t see that. It’s just another form of escapism. He facilitates so much of her escapism. The comics, the music. Why can’t he be a form of escapism himself? Does she need him? Maybe not. She ultimately helps herself. He makes it better though. He makes it easier. That’s not about him ‘saving’ her. It’s not about him being a boy. It’s about love. She doesn’t want that to end, of course she doesn’t.
I can’t say I liked Park so much. He grew on me. He understood more about life as he went through.
Yes this is a story about love, but it’s more than that. It’s a story about hope. It’s a story about overcoming bad things in life. It’s a story about finding yourself, and believing in yourself.
It's not all sweetness and light though. The differences for Eleanor are quite harsh. This book deals with the tough subject of domestic violence in the home and in contrast, Park's home is warm and welcoming. His mother who is Korean is absolutely adorable and has his father under her thumb which is brilliant to see as he is a great hulking strong man, who happens to adore the woman he married.
It's a book about relationships. relationships between teenagers, families, and the relationship you must have with yourself. It's a wonderful book to read. It tore my heart out at the end and I'm now going to read more by Rainbow Rowell.