Wednesday 15 January 2014

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Review: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow RowellEleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (review copy) - Eleanor is the new girl in town, and with her chaotic family life, her mismatched clothes and unruly red hair, she couldn't stick out more if she tried.

Park is the boy at the back of the bus. Black T-shirts, headphones, headin a book - he thinks he's made himself invisible. But not to Eleanor... never to Eleanor.

Slowly, steadily, through late-night coversations and an ever-growing stack of mix tapes, Eleanor and Park fall for each other. They fall in love the way you do the first time, when you're young, and you feel as if you have nothing and everything to lose.
 From the blurb.

Disclaimer: Since reading and reviewing Eleanor and Park, I have discovered it is highly problematic in regards to racism and racist stereotypes, that I missed in my reading of the book due to my privilege. With this in mind I can't recommend this book in good conscience, but I am leaving my review here for the purposes of transparency.

So many people were raving about this book, I had to give it a go myself. And I am so glad I did. I fell in love with the story and the characters as Eleanor and Park fell in love with each other.

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. It's a story full of the sweet tenderness of first love, full of innocence, when simply holding hands was such a big deal. Is a big reminder to appreciate the small things, but also helps you remember the tiny moments of your own romances, the ones full of sweetness. I am completely aware of what a sap I sound, but I don't think a single person could read this book and not have their heart melted.

Eleanor and Park also tackles several serious issues. Both characters have problems with their body image; Eleanor is a bigger girl, and doesn't think she's attractive, and Park is half Korean, and is aware that his Asian looks cause him to stand out. The story also covers issues of bullying, poverty and domestic abuse. Sometimes it can be a little hard hitting, especially when it comes to the domestic abuse, but none of it overshadows the beauty of the romance.

Because it's the 80s, for our young couple, entertainment comes in the form of comics and music, specifically mix tapes. The two strike up a friendship by sharing the two with the other. They bond between the pages and the riffs. I love their geekiness, and how their love grows is just so cute and adorable.

Eleanor and Park is such a beautiful, beautiful story, and I now want to read everything else Rowell writes. With just this one book, I am such a fan! Cannot recommend this novel enough, it's right up their with my favourites! I will leave you with what might be the most beautiful quote I've ever read:
'The me that's me right now is yours. Always.' (p312)
ETA on 6th March 2018: I read and reviewed this book before I was as aware of problematic books. Being more educated on such things now, were I to read it again, I would find it hugely problematic. Eleanor, and the book itself, are racist. The way Eleanor thinks of Asian people, and how Park compares himself to his white-passing brother, and how he thinks there are no hot Asian boys, is really problematic. It's been several years now since I last read this book, and I've not re-read it. Was made aware of the problems with this book by Haxine's thread on Twitter, and I really appreciate her tweeting about it.

Thank you to Orion for the review copy.

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Published: 28th February 2013
Publisher: Orion
Rainbow Rowell's Website


  1. Ooh! This sounds really good - that makes two Rainbow Rowell books I have to read now :) Fab review!

    1. Thank you! I am so looking forward to reading Fangirl when it's published! I should also be getting Attachments soon - an adult romance, involving adults rather than teens. So excited! :)

  2. Nothing but love for this beautiful story! x

  3. How can I've missed that it's set in the 80s!? =) now I am even more interested in reading this.. need to order soon...

    1. Oh, it's a major part of it, because of how different things were back then. Lots of mixtapes! Lots of comics! It's awesome! I hope you enjoy it when you read it! :) And thanks for stopping by!